News East West
TORONTO: A big `Hooray!’ went up in Canadian literary galaxy as author Alice Munro, 82, who is known as Canada’s Chekhov, became the first-ever Canadian woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday.
Awarding her the Nobel Prize, the Swedish Academy described Munro as the “master of the contemporary short story.”
Munro, who lives in Victoria in British Columbia, was woken up by her daughter very early in the morning to give her the greatest news of her life.
“I am dazed by all the attention and affection that has been coming my way this morning. It is such an honour to receive this wonderful recognition from the Nobel Committee and I send them my thanks,’’ Munro said in a statement issud through her publisher.
“When I began writing there was a very small community of Canadian writers and little attention was paid by the world. Now Canadian writers are read, admired and respected around the globe. I’m so thrilled to be chosen as this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature recipient. I hope it fosters further interest in all Canadian writers. I also hope that this brings further recognition to the short story form.”
Naming her this year’s Nobel Prize winner in literature, Peter Englund, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, said, “We’re not saying just that she can say a lot in just 20 pages — more than an average novel writer can — but also that she can cover ground. She can have a single short story that covers decades, and it works.’’
Talking to Canadian Broadcasting Corporation after the great news, Munro said winning the Nobel Prize was “one of those pipe dreams” that “might happen, but it probably wouldn’t.”
She said, “It just seems impossible. A splendid thing to happen … More than I can say.’’
Munro said the Nobel Prize for her “would make people see the short story as an important art, not something you play around with until you got a novel written.’’
Asked who she was thinking of on winning the Nobel Prize, she named her father who would have been very happy, her husband Gerald Fremlin who died just six months ago in April, and her first husband James Munro.
Born Alice Anne Laidlaw in Ontario in 1931, she married James Munro – who was her classmate when she studied journalism at the University of Western Ontario- to become a housewife and raise her three children.
It was her interest in writing that she opened a bookstore in 1963 with her husband. Munro married Gerald Fremlin in 1976 after divorcing James Munro.
For her literary work, Munro was given the Man Booker International Prize in 2009, twice the Giller Prize for The Love of a Good Woman (1998) and Runaway (2004), and thrice the Governor General’s Literary Award for her debut collection Dance of the Happy Shades (1968), Who Do You Think You Are (1978) and The Progress of Love (1986).
Interestingly, Saul Bellow, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1976, was also born in Canada but moved to Chicago when he was four.
Fellow Canadian woman writer Margaret Atwood celebrated the Nobel Prize for Munro by tweeting a “Hooray!”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, “On behalf of all Canadians, I would like to congratulate Alice Munro on being the first Canadian woman to receive literature’s most prestigious international honour.
“Canadians are enormously proud of this remarkable accomplishment, which is the culmination of a lifetime of brilliant writing.
“Ms. Munro is a giant in Canadian literature and this Nobel Prize further solidifies Canada’s place among the ranks of countries with the best writers in the world.
“I am certain that Ms. Munro’s tremendous body of work and this premier accomplishment will serve to inspire Canadian writers of all ranks to pursue literary excellence and their passion for the written word.”