Alice Munro, one of only 13 female Nobel laureates in literature and the first ever Canadian writer to receive such a prize. She is in fine company indeed with the likes of Selma Lagerlöf being the first woman to receive the prize in 1909 and the last woman writer being Doris Lessing in 2007.
Alice Munro was chosen as this year’s winner with the motivation being “master of contemporary short story”. She has already received the Governor-General’s Literary Award twice (Canada’s most prestigious literary prize), as well as the Man Booker Prize, PEN Canada, along with many other awards.
But how is the news of Munro being received in Canada?
The Toronto Star reported on 11/10/2013 in an article entitled Why we love Alice Munro, Canada’s Nobel laureate, that Munro is actually the second Canadian writer to win the Nobel prize and that “this is irritating though strictly speaking correct.” (Technically Saul Bellow was the first but he doesn’t count as he moved with his family to the US when he was 9 years old.) It goes on to explain why Munro “is ours” and that her geography such as “the Queen St. streetcar [Toronto], Kitsilano Beach [Vancouver], or the Bay of Fundy [on the Atlantic Coast]…Canadian Tire [corresponds to Bauhaus in Sweden]” are all places well-known to every Canadian. This is the landscape of Canada and instantly identifiable.
Another article from the Star, 12/10/2013, has various Canadian writers, from Margaret Atwood, Joseph Boyden, Lisa Moore, Anne Michaels, Jane Urquhart, etc., commented on Munro’s success with the Nobel Prize.
One Internet commentator described Munro winning the Nobel prize as “A good day, a day like beating the Russians at hockey” and this was how MacClean magazine summed up their article 23/10/2013, ”A good day, all right, better even than beating the Russians.”
I think that David MacFarlane, a Canadian writer also from Ontario, has the right idea when he decided to pay tribute to Munro 14/10/2013 by reading one of her short stories. He wrote, “There’s no denying that being Canadian brings an added pleasure to reading our Nobel laureate. It’s like having a really good seat at the theatre.” Being a self-exiled Canadian living in Sweden, I’m only too happy to dust off my old copies and revisit the small rural world of Munro. There’s no better way to while away the time than by immersing myself in this cosmos.
For analyses of Munro’s work, see our collection.