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Author Alice Munro wins Nobel

By Karl Ritter and Malin Rising in Stockholm | China Daily | Updated: 2013-10-11 07:25

'I never thought I would win,' says famed Canadian short-story writer

Alice Munro, a Canadian master of the short story revered as a thorough but forgiving documenter of the human spirit, won the Nobel Prize in literature on Thursday, the Swedish Academy said.

Munro is the first Canadian writer to receive the prestigious $1.2 million award since Saul Bellow, who left for the US as a boy and won in 1976.

Seen as a modern Chekhov for her warmth, insight and compassion, she has captured a wide range of lives and personalities without passing judgment on her characters.

She is beloved among her peers, from Lorrie Moore and George Saunders to Margaret Atwood and Jonathan Franzen.

Munro is equally admired by critics. She won a National Book Critics Circle prize for Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage and is a three-time winner of the Governor General's prize, Canada's highest literary honor.

Author Alice Munro wins Nobel

"I knew I was in the running, yes, but I never thought I would win," Munro said in Victoria, British Columbia.

The award is likely to cap her career. Munro told Canada's National Post in June that she was probably not going to write anymore.

The permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, Peter Englund, said he had not managed to contact Munro, but had left a message on her answering machine.

"She has taken an art form, the short story, which has tended to come a little bit in the shadow behind the novel, and she has cultivated it almost to perfection," Englund said.

Munro is the 13th female literature laureate in the 112-year history of the Nobel Prizes. Fellow Canadian writer Atwood, who also figured prominently in the Nobel running, Tweeted "Hooray! Alice Munro wins 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature."

Munro's published work often turns on the difference between her youth in Wingham, a conservative Canadian town west of Toronto, and her life after the social revolution of the 1960s.

In an interview in 2003, she described the 1960s as "wonderful".

It was "because, having been born in 1931, I was a little old, but not too old, and women like me after a couple of years were wearing miniskirts and prancing around," she said.

Munro, the daughter of a fox farmer and a teacher, was born Alice Anne Laidlaw. She was a literary person in a non-literary town, concealing her ambition like a forbidden passion.

"It was glory I was after walking the streets like an exile or a spy," recalls the narrator of Munro's Lives of Girls and Women, a novel published in 1971.

She received a scholarship to study at the University of Western Ontario, majoring in journalism, and was still an undergraduate when she sold a story to CBC radio in Canada.

She dropped out of college to marry a fellow student, James Munro, had three children and became a full-time housewife. By her early 30s, she was so frightened and depressed she could barely write a sentence.

Her good fortune was to open a bookstore with her husband, in 1963. Stimulated by everything from the conversation of adults to simply filling out invoices, her narrative talents resurfaced but her marriage collapsed. Her first collection, Dance of the Happy Shades, came out in 1968 and won the Governor's prize.

Last year's Nobel literature award went to Mo Yan of China. This year's Nobel announcements continue on Friday with the Nobel Peace Prize, followed by the economics prize on Monday.

Associated Press

 Author Alice Munro wins Nobel

A woman collects an armful of books by the 2013 Nobel laureate in literature, Canadian Alice Munro, on Thursday in Stockholm after the anouncement of this years' winner. Provided by Agence France-Presse

(China Daily 10/11/2013 page10)

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