An 82-year-old Canadian woman named Alice Munro has been all over the news, and with good reason: she just won the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature. The Swedish academy that awarded her the prize called her a "master of the short story." Not only did Munro win a sum equivalent to about $1.2 million, but she’s also been called to international attention, both in literary circles and among casual readers. Penguin Random House, Munro’s publisher, issued a statement from Munro in which she expressed her joy about receiving the award, as well as her happiness that "this will bring more attention to Canadian writing."
Munro’s body of work has revolutionized the short story as a medium of writing. Her stories often begin in an unexpected place and move backward and forward in time in a way that's unconventional, but accessible to all readers. Her admirers sometimes attribute the subtelty and grace of her stories to her upbringing in rural Canada. When asked about her preferred style of writing, Munro said that she sort of fell into writing short stories by accident. Last year, Munro admitted to the New Yorker that, "I thought the stories were just practice till I got time to write a novel." After she realized that short stories are not only her forté, but that she's a master of the form, she made them the focus of her writing career. Her writing is so strong that many critics consider her stories to be as dense as novels.
Munro, currently the writer-in-residence at the University of Western Ontario, declared earlier this year that she is, "probably not going to write anymore," to the great dismay of her many fans. Some of her most popular collections of stories include Runaway, her 2004 bestseller dealing with love and relationships; Too Much Happiness, which deals with the unique challenges and joys of love, parenting, and beauty; and Dear Life: Stories, Munro’s latest collection, which tells deceptively ordinary tales. Her only novel, Lives of Girls and Women, is a semi-autobiographical work focusing on a girl growing up in Ontario and exploring the ups and down of being a woman.
Previously, Munro won the 2009 Man Booker International Prize for her entire body of work. She’s also won Canada’s highest literary prize, the Governor General’s Award for fiction, an impressive three times. One of her stories, "The Bear Came Over the Mountain," was adapted into the film Away From Her, which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2006, and was nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, losing out to No Country For Old Men. Munro is the first Canadian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the 13th woman to do so. It's been 10 years since an American won the prize, the last being Toni Morrison in 1993.