Sunday, October 13, 2013

Celebrating Alice Munro

There were plenty of topics to write about this week, but as a Canadian writer who’s loved Alice Munro’s work for a long time, I couldn’t bypass the spectacular news that she’s won this year’s Nobel prize for literature. Hooray!! Sharing the sentiment of many Canadian authors quoted in the yahoo article below, it’s been a long time coming.

Her award is a big deal on many levels. Of the 110 Nobel recipients, she is only the 13th woman to receive this distinction, and the first Canadian woman to do so. Canadian-born Saul Bellow won the award years ago, but he only spent the first eight years of his life in Canada. What’s so special about Munro’s win is that she’s been recognized not only for the short story form, but for a body of work that focuses on everyday people in a small Canadian town.

I can’t honestly say that Munro inspired me to write, as I’d already begun my first short story attempts when I discovered her work. But her stories showed me how exquisite the short story form can be. I learned that that drama, conflict and a riveting read doesn’t have to involve crime and big events. In Munro’s world, everyday events are indeed important and created on layers of complexity and consequence.

In a way, it’s ironic that Alice Munro, described as a humble person who’s lived a quiet life, recently decided to retire from writing. It’s also ironic that her real life and her fictional world are a far cry from the attention she’s now receiving. Winning the Nobel simply isn’t the type of thing Alice Munro would write about. But real life has this way of throwing interesting events in our path.

If you haven’t read any of Alice Munro’s stories, please do yourself a favor and pick up one of her books. It’s been quite a while since I’ve done so, but I’ll be doing so real soon. This wonderful author deserves more readers, and readers—especially aspiring writers—need to know just how wonderful short stories can be.

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