Canadian Alice Munro yesterday won the Nobel Prize for Literature for her tales of the struggles, loves and tragedies of women in small-town Canada that made her what the award-giving committee called the “master of the contemporary short story.”
“Some critics consider her a Canadian Chekhov,” the Swedish Academy said, comparing her to the 19th-century Russian short story writer and playwright in a statement on its Web site.
Munro, in a telephone interview with Canadian CBC Television, said she hoped the award “would make people see the short story as an important art; not just something you played around with until you get a novel written.”
However, the 82-year-old, who revealed in 2009 that she had undergone coronary bypass surgery and been treated for cancer, said she did not think winning the prize would change her decision announced early this year to stop writing.
“You know, I was always thrilled at whatever came along — like if I got published, I was thrilled. I still am, in a way,” she told the CBC.
Munro started writing stories in her teens. She is mainly known for her short stories and has published many collections over the years. Her works include The View from Castle Rock in 2006 and Too Much Happiness three years later.
She is the second Canadian-born writer to win the prize, although she is the first winner to be thought of as distinctly Canadian. Saul Bellow, who won the award in 1976, was born in Quebec, but raised in Chicago and is widely considered an American writer.
“Her texts often feature depictions of everyday but decisive events, epiphanies of a kind, that illuminate the surrounding story and let existential questions appear in a flash of lightning,” the Nobel Academy said in appraising Munro.
Munro lives in Clinton, not far from her childhood home in southwestern Ontario. She is known to be averse to publicity and rarely gives interviews.