It’s pretty terrific that the Canadian short-story writer Alice Munro has won the Nobel Prize in Literature, because she is a wonderful writer. The Nobel committee called her “master of the contemporary short story,” and a number of well-regarded writers responded to the news with glee.
In The New Yorker, James Wood called the choice “deliriously incredible.” Wood wrote, “…Many of Munro’s readers had sadly concluded that she was not, somehow, the kind of writer that the Nobel committee seemed to like…. We were wrong, and for once it was wonderful to be wrong.”
Margaret Atwood, who might reasonably have hoped she would be the Canadian woman who would win the world’s most prestigious literary award, wrote a true and generous appreciation of Munro’s work in The Guardian.
“The road to the Nobel wasn’t an easy one for Munro,” Atwood wrote:
“Munro found herself referred to as ‘some housewife,’ and was told that her subject matter, being too ‘domestic,’ was boring. A male writer told her she wrote good stories, but he wouldn’t want to sleep with her. ‘Nobody invited him,’ said Munro tartly.”
The 82-year-old writer recently announced that she will retire, that her recent collection, Dear Life, will be her last. Here is a link to “Amundsen,” a story from that collection from The New Yorker, where many of Munro’s stories have run. If this is your first taste of Munro’s work, you are in for a treat.