Happy birthday, Alice Munro!

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Beloved Canadian writer and renowned short story author Alice Munro is 81 today. As you might expect, she's been interviewed by a wide variety of CBC personalities on both radio and TV over the years about her extensive body of work and the many awards she's received.

To celebrate her birthday, we've dug up this charming interview from The Journal, which first aired in 1986. Host Daniel Richler reports from the International Festival of Authors in Toronto, "the most illustrious gathering of its kind," where Munro was awarded with the first ever Marian Engel Award from the Writers' Trust of Canada.

"I'm very proud to be the first recipient of the Marian Engel Award," Munro said in her acceptance speech. "As a friend and a writer [Engel] often heartened me with her wit and honesty and courage."

That year was a good one for Munro -- in addition to the Marian Engel Award (which carried a $10,000 cash prize), she also published the collection The Progress of Love to great acclaim.

"People often refer to the characters in your stories as 'ordinary,'" Richler said, referring to the fact that Munro is known for her realistic and compassionate portrayals of everyday lives in rural Ontario. 

The word ordinary is often used in a condescending manner, and Munro shook off the criticism. "I never understand this," she said. "I don't know who the 'ordinary' people are. Because everyone is extraordinary to themselves."

Munro has certainly never considered her characters ordinary. "But then, I never meet anyone I do consider ordinary," she commented.

Her ability to see the extraordinary in everyday life has served her -- not to mention her lucky readers -- well throughout her literary career. Her 13th collection of short stories, Dear Life: Stories will be published in November by McClelland & Stewart. Happy birthday, Alice.

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