Alice Munro's Nobel Prize: Winnipeg authors react

Manitoba Scene asks female writers in Winnipeg for their thoughts on Canadian author Alice Munro being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Book lovers in Winnipeg react to news that Alice Munro has received the Nobel prize for Literature, making her the first Canadian woman to win the prestigious award. 1:49

Everyone across the country, including many in Winnipeg, woke up this morning to the news about Canadian writer Alice Munro being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Alice Munro, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 2013. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)
Known around the world as a master short story writer, Munro is a legacy. Her stories, many of them featuring women and girls, have garnered her significant accolades over the years, including three Governor General's Awards, two Giller prizes, the Booker.

Now, she becomes the first Canadian woman to win the Nobel.

SCENE asked some local female writers for their comments on the news.


Writer Katherena Vermette (Lisa D. Meiler)
"There isn’t a writer today who isn’t proud that we finally have a Nobel Laureate. Alice Munro is brilliant. She is entertaining. I am so proud that she won this award."

Chandra Mayor

"She's dedicated her creative life to the short story — a genre which many think of as a kind of warm-up to the 'real' work of novel-writing. Munro's stories, however, shine with an intelligence, compassion, and a truly astonishing understanding of craft and structure that most novelists can only barely imagine. 

"Her early collections (especially Lives of Girls and Women and Who Do You Think You Are?) were a deep inspiration to me as a young woman and a young writer; I identified with the fierce and frightened young women in the stories at the same time as I longed, as a developing writer, to understand how I, too, could write so clearly, so powerfully."

Dora Dueck

Writer Dora Dueck (CMU Press)
"I started reading Alice Munro in my 30s, some years after she began to publish. I can remember, quite clearly, that I loved her stories, that I was swept up in them. Exactly why, I don’t recall as clearly. It would have been the writing, of course, but surely also that it was good writing in the service of the lives of girls and women, and in Canadian settings at that.

"During those years, when everything was in flux for women in society, when being female was sometimes confusing and scary  but exhilarating, for sure — she wrote us characters like we had been, or were, or might become. Her work felt raw and real."

Samantha Beiko

"When I first picked up Munro to read for leisure, it was a battered copy of For the Love of a Good Woman from a junk shop. I tore into those stories like they were ambrosia.

"I'd stumbled on them during a really nasty time in my life, when I had to make a difficult relationship choice to save my sanity, and all I can say is ALICE SAVES.

"She deserves this prize so damn much, it's hard to put into words without getting personal. But all in all, I feel that it's just the minimum recognition for everything she's poured into her work, and every person she's touched by it.

"Brilliant woman, brilliant stories. Grateful that this happened in my lifetime."

Charlene Diehl

Charlene Diehl (Jenny Bisch)
"An Alice Munro story has a particular feel — a kind of devastating clarity, like sun in your eyes or a broken window pane slicing open your skin.

"I've learned about economy from her, about how much a master can pack into a short story, and how much can remain unspoken.

"But I think it's the heart of her work that moves and haunts me — the way she cracks off the veneer and exposes the chaos of desire and insight and self-pity that is our common human challenge.

"Every story is dense with life, both the beauty and awfulness. She is an old-style anatomist, but her clear-eyed dissections are tempered with compassion — surely that is a lesson that benefits us all…."

Cara Bartz-Edge

"When I picked up my first novel by a Canadian female writer in Grade 12, I became fixated with that area of literature. A decade later, I had to choose between so many of these great women as the focus of my master’s thesis. Ultimately I selected Margaret Atwood, whose fiction excites me academically, over Alice Munro, whose fiction resonates with me more personally.

"While I read Atwood with my head, I read Munro with my heart."

Hear Chandra Mayor on CBC's Up to Speed with host Ismaila Alfa on Thursday, Oct. 10, at 4:50 p.m.


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