Stockholm (AFP) – Canada’s Alice Munro won the Nobel Literature Prize on Thursday for her short stories that focus on the frailties of the human condition, just the 13th woman to win the coveted award.
The Swedish Academy described Munro, 82, as a “master of the contemporary short story”, a genre that has only rarely been honored with the world’s most prestigious literary prize.
Munro said she was “just terribly surprised” — and delighted — to learn that she had won the Nobel, after being woken by her daughter with the news.
“I knew I was in the running, yes, but I never thought I would win,” she told The Canadian Press in Victoria, calling the award “quite wonderful”, according to the Toronto Star newspaper.
She said she always viewed her chances of winning the Nobel as “one of those pipe dreams” that “might happen, but it probably wouldn’t”.
“It’s the middle of the night here and I had forgotten about it all, of course,” she told the Canadian broadcaster CBC, after the Nobel organization tweeted that it had been unable to get hold of Munro and had to leave a phone message.
The Swedish Academy hailed her “finely tuned storytelling, which is characterized by clarity and psychological realism. Some critics consider her a Canadian Chekhov.”
“Her stories are often set in small town environments, where the struggle for a socially acceptable existence often results in strained relationships and moral conflicts — problems that stem from generational differences and colliding life ambitions,” it said.
Her works include “Who Do You Think You Are?” (1978), “The Moons of Jupiter” (1982), “Runaway” (2004), “The View from Castle Rock” (2006) and “Too Much Happiness” (2009).
The collection “Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage” (2001) became the basis of the film “Away from Her” from 2006, directed by Sarah Polley. Her most recent collection is “Dear Life” (2012).
Born on July 10, 1931 in Wingham, Ontario, she grew up in the countryside.
At just 11 years old, she decided she wanted to be a writer, and never wavered in her career choice.