Alice Munro wins Nobel Prize for Literature

Again from the BBC, we learn that Canadian author Alice Munro (born 1931) has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.  I’m sorry to say I’ve read nothing by her, though this will inspire me to do so. If you’ve read her, please weigh in below.

And next year, can it please be Salman Rushdie?


  1. Pirate
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 4:40 am | Permalink

    She is a remarkable writer, one of my favorites. The prize is well deserved, and you are in for a treat if you decide to read her. She’s the closest thing to Chekhov on the contemporary literary scene.

  2. Posted October 10, 2013 at 4:45 am | Permalink

    Gorgeous, subtle short stories. Sarah Polley made a beautiful movie from her story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain,” starring Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent, an actor I hadn’t known before, a few years ago. Often quite melancholy, but with flashes of humor. Characters who are intelligent, real people, not cartoons summoned up for the convenience of plotting.

  3. Rob Bate
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 4:47 am | Permalink

    I read the collection of her short stories “Hateship, Friendship…..” a couple of years ago when I was reading alot of literature. Beautiful little stories that reveal the inner lives of the characters through the situations of their lives. Not a whole lot happens in the stories but then not much happened in Joyce’s “Dubliners” or Salinger’s “Nine Stories” either.

    Don’t miss reading at least one of her books.

  4. Diana MacPherson
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 5:07 am | Permalink

    I’m pretty sure I read Alice Munro in high school and her short stories/poetry in university but the most recent ones I’ve read for pleasure are The Lives of Girls and Women and The Love of a Good Woman I really enjoy her stuff. She writes a good character and you are really drawn into the story.

  5. Posted October 10, 2013 at 5:11 am | Permalink

    Like others have noted, she’s exceptionally gifted and she excels and specializes in short-story writing. Her ability to capture the minutiae of life without getting bogged down in heavy description is quite magical.

    Check out “Open Secrets” or pick up an old Granta or The New Yorker…reading one of her stories will pretty much give you an idea of whether you’ll like her style or not.

    I’m not sure about next year, but I suspect Haruki Murakami is gonna be considered for the prize at some point (this isn’t a novel observation, many have said it).

    • sgo
      Posted October 10, 2013 at 5:14 am | Permalink

      There was a news item on the Japanese news just now, showing people waiting in front of a computer (a live stream, I presume), hoping it would be Murakami. Alas. They already had the champagne ready …

      As for Munro, I read her “The Moons of Jupiter”, and although it has been a while and I don’t have it with me now, I liked it a lot.

  6. Don
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 5:21 am | Permalink

    Along with William Trevor, Munro is the greatest living writer of the short story in English. This prize is well deserved–and all the more so because she is not a politically minded writer. She is a elegant stylist with a sweeping command of time, setting, and point-of-view.

    • Posted October 10, 2013 at 7:43 am | Permalink

      Yes and thank you, Don. Munro and Trevor.

      • Merilee
        Posted October 10, 2013 at 8:07 am | Permalink

        Ditto to Munro and Trevor.

  7. Posted October 10, 2013 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    Alice Munro’s short stories are wonderful. Her stories are frequently published in the New Yorker before they are published as a collection.

    My favourite is Friend of My Youth.

    The intro to this 2012 Globe and Mail article says,
    “She may not have won the Nobel Prize she so richly merits, but Munro’s latest, very personal work proves yet again that she is among our greatest writers.”

  8. Robert Seidel
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    I thought it likely it would be Rushdie this year, with his autobiography about the fatwa just out. So much for the business of prophecy.

  9. Dominic
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    Only the 13th time it has been won by a woman.

    • Posted October 10, 2013 at 5:36 am | Permalink

      Yes Dominic I noticed that as well. The Globe articles rephrases the information “She also becomes only the 13th woman to receive the distinction.”

      This comment makes me shake my head as well:

      Ms. Munro’s longtime publisher Doug Gibson called the Nobel decision “wonderful news for all of us. Canada has just won the Nobel Prize for Literature.”

      No, Alice Munro has won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 10, 2013 at 9:57 am | Permalink

        First Canadian too.

      • Posted October 10, 2013 at 10:27 am | Permalink

        I agree. I’m thrilled for Alice Munro.

        Here’s a nice article about her from CBC:

        I have read and thoroughly enjoyed “The Love of a Good Woman” and “Lives of Girls and Women”, and just recently read one of her short stories “Miles City, Montana” which is part of an anthology of many Canadian authors — “From Ink Lake”, Canadian stories selected by Michael Ondaatje.

        I plan to read her latest and what she says is her last book, “Dear Life” which she describes as her most autobiographical.

  10. Posted October 10, 2013 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    See Leah McLaren’s discussion of the (one and only?0 negative review of Munro:

  11. godsbelow
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Regrettably, I suspect that Rushdie will never win it, though if any English language author deserves the recognition it’s him.

    I can’t imagine a Nobel committee willing to risk offending Muslim sensibilities by awarding it to him.

    • Merilee
      Posted October 10, 2013 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      Probably not a chance with Joseph Anton, his brilliant memoir of his time dealing w the fatwa.

  12. Jayso
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    She’s an absolute genius. The place to start is probably the collection simply called “Selected Stories” published in the 1990s.

  13. Posted October 10, 2013 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    Regarding Rushdie, I support the idea. But as Dawkins says, why never a non-fiction author?

    It is about time non-fiction is taken into account.

    • Dick Veldkamp
      Posted October 10, 2013 at 6:57 am | Permalink

      Churchill got the Nobel prize for literature in the non-fiction genre.

    • Endre Kovács
      Posted October 10, 2013 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      Bertrand Russell too.

    • godsbelow
      Posted October 10, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      Also Theodor Mommsen.

  14. Posted October 10, 2013 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    I read her first in the New Yorker. She is a genius. I can say nothing more.

  15. k_machine
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    I remember an old editorial cartoon regard the literature prize: it show a group of men surrounded by piles of books with one guy standing in the middle, holding up a book and exclaiming: “We finally found someone that nobody has ever heard of!”

    Also, there’s a local TV personality that used to go to the announcement of the winner every year and exclaim “finally!” when the name was read, also a commentary on the obscurity of many of the winners.

    That aside Munro seems more well-known than the more esoteric choices of the academy.

    • Nick Evans
      Posted October 11, 2013 at 5:09 am | Permalink

      Perhaps Munro is “more well-known” than others because she writes in our language? This is an unavoidable issue with international literary prizes: people don’t often read literary fiction in translation, and so aren’t especially familiar with authors who write in other tongues than their own.

  16. Hempenstein
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Small world. I’d never heard of her, but I read very little fiction. I did note that my daughter’s about to marry someone with that name, tho, and now I learn that they’re distant relatives. My daughter writes, too, so she finds this all pretty exciting.

  17. Diane G.
    Posted October 11, 2013 at 12:49 am | Permalink


  18. Posted October 11, 2013 at 4:25 am | Permalink

    This link to some stories of Munroe just came up on my G+ stream:

  19. Posted October 11, 2013 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    This is a good article about Ms. Munro, comments from other great authors.

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