The Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded this morning to Alice Munro, cited briefly as “master of the contemporary short story.” She is the 13th woman and first Canadian (aside from 1976 winner Saul Bellow, born near Montreal) to win the literature prize, which comes one year after her most recent short story collection DEAR LIFE and several months after telling the National Post and the New York Times she had retired from writing.
In a follow-up interview with press Swedish Academy permanent secretary Peter Englund said: “I think no one has better deconstructed the central myth of modern romantic love; not just saying it means this or means that, but showing that people can feel very, very different things about it…. She is a fantastic portrayer of human beings.”
Munro’s longtime Canadian publisher at McClelland & Stewart Doug Gibson told the Canadian Press the decision was “wonderful news for all of us. Canada has just won the Nobel Prize for Literature…People have asked if I’m surprised. No, I’m not surprised. She deserves it. It’s about time, but it’s wonderful that this has now happened.”
Penguin Random House, which also houses Munro’s long-standing American publisher Knopf and Spanish-language publisher Lumen, stated there was “jubilation and great pride today” throughout the company worldwide, extending “our joyous good wishes to our beloved author and to our family of her publishers and editors.”
Clara Farmer, publishing director of her UK publisher Chatto, told the Bookseller: “Alice is one of the best-loved authors in the world. We all have tears in our eyes. It feels like all’s right in the world when Alice Munro is top of the tree. It’s simply thrilling.”
Amusingly, the Nobel Prize had some trouble getting a hold of Munro, leaving a voice message with the news. CBC reported she eventually found out through a call from her daughter, who said: “Mom, you won!” Munro’s initial reaction: “I had forgotten all about this. But it is wonderful…I didn’t know I was on a list until yesterday. I’m dazed…there will now be more thought about Canadian writers.”