Canadian writer Alice Munro has been awarded this year's Nobel Prize for Literature.
The Swedish academy described the 82-year-old Munro as "a master of the contemporary short story" for her sharply crafted stories concentrating on the small-town life of rural Ontario.
Munro is the first Canadian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, and only the 13th woman to do so. When she discovered so few women have been awarded the prize, she told CBC World Report "Can this be possible? It seems dreadful there are only 13 of us."
The job of breaking the good news fell to Munro's daughter after the Nobel committee were unable to track down the author themselves. The norm is to telephone the author before the announcement is made, but the committee were only able to leave a message on her answering machine.
Munro was 37 before she published her first collection of short stories, Dance of the Happy Shades, in 1968. Despite this late blooming, she went on to amass 15 original collections of short stories. Her most recent book, Dear Life, was published in 2012, and contains some autobiographical pieces, of which Munro said "I believe they are the first and last – and the closest – things I have to say about my own life."
Munro has been dropping many hints lately that she is planning on retiring. In June, after being awarded the Trillium Book Award for Dear Life, she told the National Post that she was "probably not going to write any more" as the writer's life can be very lonely. However, if she is serious about retiring, at least her wish to "go out with a bang" will certainly have come true.
If you are have never read any Munro and are unsure where to start, the Toronto Star are running a poll on its readers' most loved collection. The firm favorite seems to be Lives of Girls and Women, with Runaway and Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage also proving popular.