CBC Digital Archives

Alice Munro: Still perfecting her craft

A master of the short story, Alice Munro is one of Canada's most acclaimed literary treasures. With characters and settings that often mirror her own background and memories, her unadorned yet emotionally searing stories have enthralled readers since her first collection was published in 1968. With this selection of eight interviews from 1974 to 2007, CBC Digital Archives uncovers a witty, revealing and generous author.

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After a lifetime of writing, Alice Munro thought she'd put down her pen and try living life as an ordinary person instead of a constant observer. It lasted about three months. In 2007, she re-enters public view with a reading in the small town of Port Hope, Ont., much to the delight of her fans. After being interviewed by fellow writer Jane Urquart, Munro sits down with CBC arts reporter Sandra Abma and says she plans to publish again soon.
• Munro's appearance at the 2005 Vancouver International Writers Festival was billed as her last public reading. Looking back on it a year later, she explained: "It's too uncomfortable to stand in one place getting stiff, and then you have to hobble off, which looks like hell." She also told reporter Val Ross that her 2006 book, The View from Castle Rock, was likely her last. "I don't know if I have the energy to do this any more," she said.

• As proof of Alice Munro's continuing output, the New Yorker published four new stories in 2008. Munro also appeared at the New Yorker Festival in Manhattan that year, and was interviewed on stage by the magazine's fiction editor, Deborah Treisman, before taking questions from the audience.

• Munro has twice won the Giller Prize, Canada's top literary award: in 1998 (for The Love of a Good Woman) and 2004 (for Runaway). She also sat on the Giller jury in 2006.

• The often-repeated accolade about Alice Munro - that "she is our Chekhov" - originated with a fellow author, novelist Cynthia Ozick. In a quote for the hardcover edition of 1994's Open Secrets, Ozick wrote: "[Munro] is our Chekhov, and is going to outlast most of her contemporaries."

• In May 2009 Munro was awarded the Man Booker International Prize, which came with a cash prize of $103,000 and accolades from the judges, who said in a statement: "To read Alice Munro is to learn something every time that you never thought of before." Munro had been nominated in 2007 for the biannual prize, which recognizes the body of work of authors writing English fiction. 

• The collection of short stories Too Much Happiness, was published in 2009, and was followed by Dear Life in 2012.

• In 2013 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, as "master of the contemporary short story".

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Oct. 16, 2007
Guest: Alice Munro
Reporter: Sandra Abma
Duration: 2:58

Last updated: September 3, 2014

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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