Saturday, October 12, 2013

Alice Munro wins the Nobel Prize!

Finally! I'm happy the first Canadian to win is Alice Munro. She's long been known by Canadians and international authors, but her short stories deserve to be more widely read. And she deserves the $1M+ that comes with the title.

Soon after the news broke, media outlets around the world began clamouring to speak with the media-shy Munro. The author granted only a handful of interviews before her publisher, Random House of Canada, issued a statement saying she was "dazed by all the attention and affection" and would be saying nothing further.
Of her own work, Munro has said: "I want to tell a story, in the old-fashioned way — what happens to somebody — but I want that 'what happens' to be delivered with quite a bit of interruption, turnarounds, and strangeness. I want the reader to feel something is astonishing — not the 'what happens' but the way everything happens. These long short story fictions do that best, for me." Huffington Post
Reading the Globe and Mail this morning, I connected with Russell Smith's insights:
A great deal of talk since Alice Munro's Nobel win has centred on her being a Canadian, but she represents something else that's just as weird and importnat:  the short story.
There is great irony in short stories reaching the podium now, at a time when they seem to be at thier nadir in popularity. Every publisher will tell you:  they don't sell. Most of the major publishers have an unofficial no-short-stories-policy (unless of course, you're Alice Munro).
Munro herself is incredibly subtle. Her simple and direct sentences convey troubling information indirectly, obliquely. They describe, rarely explain. The stories contain secrets, and so do the perspectives of her narrators and protagonists; the secrets - often quite murderous - take some time to be perceived.
In my previous posts I've proven myself to be a fan, holding Munro as the standard for short fiction. It feels like a friend of the family has been honoured!

Dear Life
Unaccustomed Earth
Double Feature
My Mistress Sparrow is Dead

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