Nobel prizewinner: Canadian writer Alice Munro has won the world's most prestigious prize for literature.
She's the first writer born, living and working in Canada to do so.
What are your thoughts?
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It's a natural for Thanksgiving.
Canadian writer Alice Munro is the winner of the Nobel prize for Literature. It puts an absolute banner on her long career;
the first such award to any Canadian writer and who identified as a Canadian writer. Saul Bellow, was Canadian by birth,
but moved early to the United States, and made - to a large part - Chicago and America his subject. The ultimate accolade
for a writer and an award that always to some degree sheds part of its glory on the country of its receiver.
Great jubilation in Canada -- hardly any flares of abrasian or jealousy -- testimony to Munro's particularly high standing
with her fellow writers ...from all over the world; and to the long- earned esteem of her colleagues in this country.
I thought it notable -- beyond its great intrinisic notability -- that Alice Munro won, because she worked in a form that
has not the glamour standing of the novel. It makes the win all the more impressive:
To choose the short story and not the novel, was brave too. The novel is the "big boy" - the literary pages the
wine-swilling conferences, the glam interviews are all about the novel. But the novel is "loose and baggy" - a novel can
But the short story insists on the very largest talent. It demands a jeweler's craft, the keenest inner eye for the
most precise balancing, and an absolute sense of diction and word placement, the ordering of events and mastery of tone.
Like walking the high wire over a gorge carrying a piano.
Finally, Alice Munro spoke to the world from a secluded or a very particular corner of it. Those shaped fables of hers
found an echo everywhere. In Donne's words she made "one little room an Everywhere."
Well, today on Checkup we have some writers as guests and one who knows her very well; but we want you - the readers - to
give us your thoughts and feelings about the award and the writer. What's your reaction to Alice Munro receiving the Nobel
-- thoughts about writing and its power.
Our question today: "What are your thoughts on Alice Munro winning the Nobel Prize for literature?"
I'm Rex Murphy ...on CBC Radio One ...and on Sirius XM, satellite radio channel 169 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.
- Alistair MacLeod
Award winning short story writer and novelist; professor Emeritus of English at the University of Windsor.
- Douglas Gibson
Publisher of Alice Munro's books under the Douglas Gibson imprint. Author of Stories about Storytellers.
- Jim Munro
Owner of the independent bookstore Munro's Books, Victoria, B.C.
- Elaine Kalman Naves
Author of several non-fiction books, including Shoshanna's Story: A Mother,
A Daughter and Shadows of History. Next month she has a new book coming out called
Portrait of a Scandal published by Vehicule Press.
- Denise Chong
Award winning author of The Concubines children. Her new book is called
Lives of the Family published by Random House.
Globe and Mail
The New Yorker
Random House Canada
Douglas Gibson Books
I can brag that I was just about her first reader. Two copies of everything published in Canada must be deposited at the National Library. One fortuitous Friday I grabbed a random bundle off the to-be-catalogued shelf and went to it. In this bundle was an unimpressive looking book covered in bottle green and maroon, if I remember correctly. It was Dance of the Happy Shades. Of course it was forbidden to take home books in the process of being catalogued, but the rule was broken that day. Despite having a small baby I spent the entire next day in our backyard reading this book nonstop. Don't remember who rescued the baby that day. The title story was so close to my heart, as we have a handicapped child and our imagined prognosis for this child was all clear sailing.
I have a connection with the Canada Council and was in attendance when she received her first or second Governor General's Award. I shook her hand and told her it should be the Nobel. She shook her head and giggled in a "don't be silly" sort of way. I adore her writing for its incredible bravery. She digs beneath the first layer of her characters and, where most writers stop, she goes deeper, then deeper still then to frighteningly gutsy depths that one can never go to even within oneself. My favorite author since that very first story in Dance of the Happy Shades.
I recommended Alice to a friend in Germany who later told me she was stunned by what it revealed about Canada. She had no idea that the Canadian countryside was so far behind the times, so primitive even (plumbing, women's status, etc.). I told her things have changed here since the '50s, haven't they changed in Germany? So now I'm wondering what people the world over will think of the state of things in Canada, now that the prize may have introduced them to Alice.
Vancouver, British Columbia
A Canadian commentator, Jian Ghomeshi, in part said that the Nobel to Alice Monro is "a great victory for Canada..." Canada did not win anything. Alice Monroe won for what she has written. We, Canadians, won nothing. Nor do we win gold medals, Stanley cups, etc. Individuals and teams win. A country is a geo-political land mass. It doesn't win anything.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Using deceptively simple prose, Alice Monro reveals astonishing truths about human nature. She has elevated the short story format to a creative work of art. The Nobel Committee has done the world a huge favour by recognizing the talent of this gifted writer. Hey, it doesn't hurt that she's Canadian too. No apologies needed.
Red Deer, Alberta
Alice Munro has been given such an award amidst a world of words and ideas. Pierre Trudeau would have wanted to marry her, I am absolutely sure if this. Good for her, except the Trudeau part.
Why not? She has consistently given us two precious things: quality and quantity. If you're at all interested, I would vote for Erick Van Lustbader as an encore.
Québec City, Quebec
At a time when my country seems bent on becoming an advanced rogue state and when I'm wondering where our reputation is going, Alice Munro comes along and grabs this one. People have said she's our Chekov, but I think she's our Orwell. Both write sentences that make you gasp and wonder how they did it.
I realize that it's the wrong holiday for a Grinch, but, although I have adored Alice Munro ever since first hearing about and from her on Peter Gzowski's old "This Country in the Morning", I have the following curmudgeonly comments.
It is absolutely not to the credit of Canada that she won. Alice came along long before our government got into the business of succouring our artists on the implicit assumption that they could not make it without such a leg up. I have no time for the resulting literary ghettoes like "Can-Lit" as I choose my authors on merit not birthplace.
In any event, the Nobel Foundation is a highly dubious evaluator of anything, be it economics, physics, peace or literature. There are past choices (and oversights) too numerous to mention that put the lie to any thought that this is the world's greatest literary prize (as Rex referred to it). Beats me why anyone would believe that a committee composed entirely of appointed-for-life Swedes would be the highest arbiter of literary quality. It is as puzzling as many of their wacky choices.
This said, I can only repeat Peter Gzowski's first words in his long-ago interview with this great author who needs no Nobel to be a winner: "I love you Alice Munro!"
Prince George, British Columbia
I am so excited that Alice Munro holds the Nobel Prize for literature for this year. I love the sense of shared jubilation that has spread across Canada with her recognition. It is as if all of Canada has taken ownership of the prize. So perfectly Canadian.
Red Deer, Alberta
I am just lying back, listening to this week's broadcast thinking that this is the greatest moment in this young country's literary history. And it will have a domino effect on our self-perception as Canadians, on how we read, study, write and tell stories, and on how the world sees us. I cannot believe that it took so long, but I am so damned glad the Nobel committee got it right this year. Now I am off to read Dance of the Happy Shades.
That Alice Munro has been recognized in such a significant way renews my belief that the kind of authenticity with which she depicts her characters, and the challenges they encounter along the journey of their ordinary, extraordinary lives is truly desirous by the general reading populace. Perhaps it is how clearly we sometimes see parts of ourselves within the context of her unfolding plots that endears each one of us from the first of her pieces we have the privilege to read. What a fine fit to have asked Alistair MacLeod to comment on Ms. Munro's accomplishments. So unassuming. So genuine and personable as people when we hear them speak to us during interviews. So Canadian, so brilliantly gifted. Bravo! I appreciate their every word, the depth of insight evident within every microcosm of a world created.
Her writing embodies "what oft was thought, but n'er so well expressed". She has been the accompaniment to my entire adult life.
I would like to express my appreciation of Alice Munro and my delight at her receiving the Nobel Prize in literature. I have all her books! I started reading her when I was in my 20s and I am now in my early 70s. What I love about her is her great ability to uncover the many layers in ordinary people's lives. Also, her quirky characters and their often single-minded determination to do what is important to them, however inexplicable their behavior may seem to others. I was frequently reminded of similar characters I encountered growing up in rural Manitoba. She manages to say a great deal with very few words and without needing to explain. In my book club I have led discussions on her books quite a number of times. A well deserved honour for a great writer!
It's fantastic news for Canada and for women writers! Forget about comparing her to Chekhov - she is who she is, Alice Munro. I have short story writer friends who now feel vindicated that Alice Munro won the Nobel. She has now become the wind on their back and they can move forward with their head held high, feeling their genre has finally been elevated to the heavens. Lovely day in Montreal. I spent the afternoon browsing used book stores and every second person who entered asked the same question, "Do you have any books by Alice Munro?" As one owner said, "For years, her books gathered dust but now it's stardust".
I am absolutely elated at this special honour given to and richly deserved by Alice Munro, a true Canadian and global treasure. In my university days, a friend and I worked evenings at the first Munro's Book Store and enjoyed our every contact with Alice. I remember her with enormous affection and I love my memories: her treating us to a cocktail at a nearby pub and telling us that a university professor had told her she was just another housewife writer. (She is deservedly a global icon now and we've never heard since about him!) Also, she said she would love to have a second home at the top of Victoria's first high rise so she could just write and write and write. She is a warm, lovely, generous person, with a great sense of fun and a glorious voice and laugh. I adored her then and I adore her now, and am so very proud and honoured to have actually known her.
Victoria, British Columbia
What a terrific program today - upbeat, celebratory, joyful and life-affirming. So different from what we usually have to deal with in the news, and on Cross Country Checkup.
Alice Munro won her first Trillium in 1991. I was there and went up to introduce myself. At that time my first book of stories was out and the first story, Rapid Transits, won the Journey Prize. Alice Munro shook my hand, said she had read my book, and said her favourite story was "The Next Governor of California." Can you imagine her presence of mind, coupled with generosity? Here she was, the star of the evening, shining the light on me. She also told me publishers would want me to write a novel, and that I should resist the temptation.
I didn't, flubbed badly. But her kindness that evening has never left me.
Kaslo, British Columbia