If you were anywhere on the Internet this morning, you heard that Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for Literature. She’s technically not the first Canadian to do so: Montreal-born Saul Bellow was in, in 1976, though he spent his entire writing life living in the States. Munro, however, is the first person to win the prize with a Canadian home address.
Additionally, she’s only the 13th woman to have won the prize, to which she said, “That seems, to me, dreadful, that there’s only 13.” Her reaction to the news was not nearly as nonchalant as that of her fellow female Laureate, Doris Lessing, who was awarded the prize in 2007. In fact, Munro was still asleep when the call from Sweden came, and the officials left her a voicemail. One of her daughters called to wake her up. “Mom,” she said, “you’ve won.” In her first media interview as a Nobel Laureate, moments after waking up and hearing the news, Munro described herself as “dazed.” She hopes that this will help boost the status of Canadian writing around the world.
Here’s a great New Yorker story of Munro’s, if you need one close at hand. The writer Alexander Chee recommended reading it to celebrate, and I’d say he’s right. And here’s another one from her latest (and possibly last) collection, Dear Life, in the Telegraph.
The Millions has a great guide to getting started with Alice Munro’s stories, if you have yet to cultivate the pleasure of knowing them. Critic Steven Beattie had my favourite quick take after the news was released.
Then there are the myriad reviews of her oeuvre. She’s been publishing stories for almost five decades now: in that time, she’s come to be recognized for her talents, though Lives of Girls and Women was a challenged book in the ’70s. More recently, Carrie Snyder opened her review of Munro’s latest with, “These stories are perfect. Of course they are.” Here’s one where Globe and Mail books editor Jared Bland peels one of Munro’s stories like a grape. (Bland also took to video this morning to say that she’s excellent, and deserved to win the prize.) But freshest in my memory is Christian Lorentzen’s evisceration of her long career the London Review of Books last summer. Also of intense interest today, the Quill and Quire interview with her various editors, detailing their relationships and the contexts in which “our Chekhov’s” works are read.
We are all living in Alice Munro country today.
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