Who Do You Think You Are?

A short story collection by Nobel laureate Alice Munro.

Alice Munro

Rose and her stepmother, Flo, live in Hanratty — across the bridge from the "good" part of town. Rose, alternately fascinated and appalled by the rude energy of the people around her, grows up nursing her hope of outgrowing her humble beginnings and plotting an escape to university.

Rose makes her escape and thinks herself free. But Hanratty's question — Who Do You Think You Are? — rings in her ears during her days in Vancouver, mocks her attempts to make her marriage successful and haunts her new career. (From Penguin Canada)

Excerpt | Author interviews

From the book

Royal Beating. That was Flo's promise. You are going to get one Royal Beating.

The word Royal lolled on Flo's tongue, took on trappings. Rose had a need to picture things, to pursue absurdities, that was stronger than the need to stay out of trouble, and instead of taking this threat to heart she pondered: how is a beating royal? She came up with a tree-lined avenue, a crowd of formal spectators, some white horses and black slaves.

Someone knelt, and the blood came leaping out like banners. An occasion both savage and splendid. In real life they didn't approach such dignity and it was only Flo who tried to supply the event with some high air of necessity and regret. Rose and her father soon got beyond anything presentable.

From "Royal Beatings" in Who Do You Think You Are? by Alice Munro ©1978. Published by Penguin Group. 

Author interviews

A rare conversation with Canada’s first winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. In this interview from 2004, Eleanor speaks with Munro about her Giller Prize-winning collection of short stories, Runaway.