Rediscover: Alice Munro

Alice Munro, the Nobel Prize-winning author beloved for her brilliant short stories, died on Monday at age 92. The New York Times called Munro "a member of the rare breed of writer, like Katherine Anne Porter and Raymond Carver, who made their reputations in the notoriously difficult literary arena of the short story, and did so with great success. Her tales--many of them focused on women at different stages of their lives coping with complex desires--were so eagerly received and gratefully read that she attracted a whole new generation of readers."

Munro won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013 and was cited as "master of the contemporary short story" who was able "to accommodate the entire epic complexity of the novel in just a few short pages." In 1986, she won the Governor General Literary Award for her first collection, Dance of the Happy Shades, and went on to win two more Governor General awards. She also won two Giller Prizes as well as the Man Booker International Prize, whose judges called her "practically perfect," adding that "she brings as much depth, wisdom and precision to every story as most novelists bring to a lifetime of novels. To read Alice Munro is to learn something every time that you never thought of before."

"Ms. Munro's stories were widely considered to be without equal, a mixture of ordinary people and extraordinary themes," the Times said. "She portrayed small-town folks, often in rural southwestern Ontario, facing situations that made the fantastic seem an everyday occurrence. Some of her characters were fleshed out so completely through generations and across continents that readers reached a level of intimacy with them that usually comes only with a full-length novel."

Munro was also a bookseller. She and her first husband, James Munro, opened Munro's Books in Victoria, B.C., in 1963. CBC quoted Munro as saying the store helped her overcome writer's block. "The writing ceased to be this all-important thing that I had to prove myself with. The pressure came off."

Kristin Cochrane, CEO of her longtime publisher, McClelland & Stewart, said, "Alice Munro is a national treasure--a writer of enormous depth, empathy, and humanity whose work is read, admired, and cherished by readers throughout Canada and around the world. Alice's writing inspired countless writers too, and her work leaves an indelible mark on our literary landscape."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote on X: "The world has lost one of its greatest storytellers. Alice Munro was captivated with everyday life in small-town Canada. Her many, many readers are, too. She will be dearly missed." Munro's final short story collection, Dear Life (2012), is available in paperback from Vintage.

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