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Canadian author Alice Munro wins Nobel Prize for literature

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 10th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Alice Munro has become the first Canadian female - and one of 13 women overall, to win the esteemed Nobel Prize for literature. The awarding of the 2013 Nobel Prize is also seen as a triumph for the literary form of the "short story," long denigrated in favor of the novel. 

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Munro's Nobel Prize for Literature means a cash reward of more than $120,000. Her previous back catalog of published works will now be expected to go into major publication as well.

The 82-year-old author was praised by the academy for her "finely tuned storytelling, which is characterized by clarity and psychological realism." Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Saul Bellow, Harold Pinter, Josť Saramago, Nadine Gordimer, Doris Lessing, Toni Morrison and the late Seamus Heaney are just a handful of the writers who have been given the accolade since 1901.

Munro's name is also a welcome sound for book sellers. Hers is a familiar and popular name. Fellow author Margaret Atwood, also mooted for the Nobel, punched the air enthusiastically to her considerable number of Twitter followers within minutes of the news being broken; Salman Rushdie praised her as "a true master of the form".

Residing in remote south-western Ontario, the setting for her 15 volumes of stories, Munro is reclusive. The secretary of the Swedish Academy had to leave a message on her answering machine.

Munro was staying in British Columbia with her daughter, who informed her of the news. The unassuming Munro, who seems to have been overwhelmed by the attention, later issued a statement through her publisher, Penguin Random House, saying: "I'm particularly glad that winning this award will please so many Canadians. I'm happy, too, that this will bring more attention to Canadian writing."

Munro says that her most recent short story collection, "Dear Life," published in 2012, will be her final book.

Born Alice Laidlaw, the oldest of three children, outside Wingham, to parents of Scottish ancestry on her father's side, and Irish on her mother's, Munro's father, Robert Laidlaw, was a direct descendant of author James Hogg, best known for "The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner."

In her most directly autobiographical work, the title story from "The View from Castle Rock," Munro traces the history of the Laidlaws' journey from Scotland to Nova Scotia, her parents' short-lived success as silver-fox fur trappers during the Depression and her own formative years in the Forties and Fifties. "I never have a problem with finding material," she once said, "I wait for it to turn up, and it always turns up. It's dealing with the material I'm inundated with that poses the problem."

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