National Treasure #129: Alice Munro

She has remarked in interviews that she focused on the short story early on simply because she was taking care of two daughters before the age of 30. – Canadian Encyclopedia

Ah. Sort of a “Bloom where you’re planted” approach to career planning. It seems to have worked for her:

  • 3 Governor General’s Awards
  • 2 Giller Prizes
  • 1 each of the Canada-Australia Literary Prize, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Canada and the Caribbean), and the O. Henry Award in the US
  • 1 Nobel Prize for literature (the first Canadian so honoured)

Her stories have been translated into 20 languages. What are her stories like?

Munro’s craft exerts a radial power, in which a central motif or situation mutates or recurs throughout various contexts within a story, often concluding with a reflection upon experience that seems anything but definitive. Munro’s is the fiction for a culture in which the nostalgia for lost certainties seems as potent as the unshakeable realization of that loss. Written within the conventions of literary realism, her fiction reflects the preoccupations of figures who must remain satisfied with momentary illumination rather than life-changing revelations. – Canadian Encyclopedia

Or, if you prefer . . .

Munro’s work has been described as having revolutionized the architecture of short stories, especially in its tendency to move forward and backward in time. Her stories have been said to “embed more than announce, reveal more than parade.” Munro’s fiction is most often set in her native Huron County in southwestern Ontario. Her stories explore human complexities in an uncomplicated prose style. Munro’s writing has established her as “one of our greatest contemporary writers of fiction,” or, as Cynthia Ozick put it, “our Chekhov.” – Wikipedia

Literary criticism is not really my thing, so this is what works for me. . .

Alice Munro is widely regarded as one of the most important short-story writers, not just in Canada but in the English-speaking world as a whole. – Canadian Encyclopedia

I guess that explains the Nobel.

Watch the interview with Peter Englund, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, discussing her work.


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