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Alice Munro, the Canadian-born writer at the age of 82, has won the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature. The vast majority of her works are short stories bundled into collections, and nearly all of her stories are set in a small patch of rural Ontario, Canada. She is the first Canadian and the 13th woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Small People. Big Feelings.
It is a sweet quote that rolls nicely off the tongue, but it embodies the nature of her works. Munro’s stories have been likened to the writing of Chekov, and her stories have strong, female characters and revolve around a female experience.
Munro is also lauded as giving a fantastic portrayal of real, human beings. Unlike the superhuman determination of Hemingway heroes, her characters struggle with the choices they must make—and, are often people who don’t know how to react to their situations.
A recent Slate Article recommends a few selections as a primer of the writing of Alice Munro. These selections were chosen to represent her decades of writing and the breadth of her work.
- “Lives of Girls and Women” (Lives of Girls and Women, 1971)
- “The Moons of Jupiter” (The Moons of Jupiter, 1982)
- “The Love of a Good Woman” (The Love of a Good Woman, 1998)
- “Family Furnishings” (Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, 2001)
- “Dear Life” (Dear Life, 2012)
Writing Life and Future
Alice Munro published her first short story while she was studying English and Journalism at the University of Western Ontario. After a few years of school, she dropped out to marry James Munro, and 14 years later, they settled in Victoria and opened Munro’s Books, which is still open. She began writing short stories, and published her first collection when she was 37 years old.
“For years and years, I thought that stories were just practice, till I got time to write a novel,” she told The New Yorker in 2012. “Then I found that they were all I could do, and so I faced that. I suppose that my trying to get so much into stories has been a compensation.”
Munro has stated recently that she was finished with writing now that she is in her 80s. When asked, the Nobel Prize spokesperson said that she has written more than enough to earn her Nobel Prize, and that it is her prerogative. But, upon learning of the award, Munro said she may write again—the news was quite exciting.
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