Alice Munro seen as master of the short story

Thu Oct 10, 2013 7:32am EDT
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By Cameron French

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian writer Alice Munro, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature on Thursday, is an admitted short-story addict who has garnered international praise for her tales of the struggles, loves and tragedies of women in small-town Canada.

She became the second Canadian-born writer to win the prize, although she is the first winner with a distinctly Canadian identity. Saul Bellow, who won the award in 1976, was born in Quebec, but raised in Chicago and is widely considered an American writer.

The 82-year-old Munro, who won the Man Booker International Prize in 2009 and was often mentioned as a Nobel contender, stands out in a literary world that tends to reward novels.

She told the Wall Street Journal in 2009, after winning the Man Booker prize, that she used to attempt to write novels but "didn't get anywhere."

"The novel would always break down about halfway through and I would lose interest in it, and it didn't seem any good and I wouldn't persist," she told the paper.

Instead, she published a series of highly praised short story collections, beginning with 1968's "Dance of the Happy Shades."

In addition to the Man Booker, she has won the Giller Prize - Canada's most high-profile literary award - twice, and has won Canada's Governor General's Award for fiction three times.

In 2009 she removed her collection "Too Much Happiness" from Giller consideration, saying she wanted to give younger, less-established authors an opportunity.   Continued...

File photo of Canadian writer Alice Munro smiling at the end of the Giller awards ceremony in Toronto in this November 6, 2007. REUTERS/Mike Cassese/Files