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Alice Munro honoured by Royal Canadian Mint

Alice Munro

The Royal Canadian Mint has offered up a token of its appreciation for Canada’s “best short story writer” and Nobel Prize for Literature winner Alice Munro with the release of a collector’s edition $5 silver coin.

According to a press release, the Mint is also donating $10,000 to the Writers’ Trust of Canada, which honoured Munro in 1986 for her body of work. The donation is meant to “encourage a thriving writing community in Canada.”

“For her to choose the writer’s trust [sic] as the recipient for the charitable proceeds is really a nice endorsement for an organization that’s working to further the careers of writers in Canada,” Writers’ Trust executive director Mary Osborne tells

The coin, designed by Canadian artist Laurie McGaw, is inscribed with a passage chosen by Munro from her 2006 collection, The View from Castle Rock. The coin reads:

And in one of these houses – I can’t remember whose – a magic doorstop, a big mother-of-pearl seashell that I recognized as a messenger from near and far, because I could hold it to my ear – when nobody was there to stop me – and discover the tremendous pounding of my own blood, and of the sea.

On April 1, a limited mintage of 7,500 coins will be available from the Royal Canadian Mint for $69.95 each.

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Western University commits $1.5 million to Alice Munro Chair in Creativity

Yesterday, while Alice Munro was being presented with the Nobel Prize for Literature, Western University in London, Ontario, announced it will honour the author with a new chair for its faculty of arts and humanities.

According to a press release, the Alice Munro Chair in Creativity will enable Western, which has committed $1.5 million to match donations, to “recruit a creative writer, teacher, and scholar who will advance the university’s tradition of excellence in developing the talents of students and future writers.” The appointed chair will serve as a “mentor and a model to faculty, staff, and students,” and “attract international authors as speakers and future writers-in-residence.”

From 1949 to 1951 while attending Western, Munro published three stories in its undergraduate English magazine, Folio. In 1976, she received an honorary degree from the university.

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Alice Munro and the Nobel sales effect

(photo: Derek Shapton)

There were plenty of cheers on Oct. 10 when Alice Munro became the first Canadian resident (and the 13th woman) to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. But did the excitement translate to actual book sales?

BookNet Canada wanted to determine if there was a Nobel effect on book buying. The non-profit agency partnered with Nielsen Book to analyze sales in 10 countries, including Spain, India, South Africa, and Australia. The report covers an eight-week period, from the week ending Sept. 21 through to Nov. 10, and includes all of Munro’s available in-print titles (hardcover and paperback only) in both English and in translation.

Here are some of the report highlights:

  • There was a Canadian sales increase of 4,424 per cent between the weeks of Sept. 21 and Oct. 19
  • The week of the win had the highest increase, from 94 units to 6,345 units (translates to a rise of 6,650 per cent) nationwide
  • Out of all the countries surveyed, the U.S. saw the biggest spike, increasing from around 3,000 units to more than 32,600 units the week ending Nov. 2
  • In comparison with the Nobel and other honours, Canada Reads still comes out on top with a 4,465 per cent sales increase from the time when the shortlist is revealed to when the winner is announced

BookNet Canada concludes the report by stating it would like to send Munro “a virtual high five and a bear hug.”

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Poor health keeps Alice Munro from attending Nobel ceremony

(photo: Derek Shapton)

Nobel Prize for Literature winner Alice Munro will not attend the award ceremony in Stockholm on Dec.10.

On his personal blog, Swedish Academy secretary Peter Englund writes, “Her health is simply not good enough. All involved, including Mrs. Munro herself, regret this.”

Englund told the Associated Press it is not yet confirmed who will accept the award on Munro’s behalf.

Munro is the first Canadian to win the Nobel Prize in the literary award’s 113-year history.

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From the review archives: Alice Munro

In 1972, Alice Munro (right) won the inaugural CBA/IBY Award for Lives of Girls and Women. The award was presented by the Canadian Booksellers Association, in hopes of focusing “attention on a Canadian book which they feel has not generated the popular interest it merits.”

Click on the links to read archived reviews of Alice Munro’s latest titles:

Dear Life, 2012

Too Much Happiness, 2009

The View from Castle Rock, 2006

Runaway, October, 2004

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, 2001

The Love of a Good Woman, 1998

Selected Stories, October 1996

Biographies and essays

Stories about Storytellers: Publishing Alice Munro, Robertson Davies, Alistair MacLeod, Pierre Trudeau and Others by Douglas Gibson, 2011

Alice Munro: Writing Her Lives by Robert Thacker, 2005

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Alice Munro wins Nobel Prize for Literature [UPDATED]

Alice Munro has been awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature, becoming the first Canadian (and only the 13th woman) to win one of the world’s top literary accolades in the prize’s 113-year history.

In a statement provided by Munro’s publisher Penguin Random House Canada, she is quoted as saying: “I am amazed, and very grateful…. I’m particularly glad that winning this award will please so many Canadians. I’m happy, too, that this will bring more attention to Canadian writing.”

A subsequent statement from Munro, also provided by her publisher, reads in full:

This is so surprising and wonderful. I am dazed by all the attention and affection that has been coming my way this morning. It is such an honour to receive this wonderful recognition from the Nobel Committee and I send them my thanks.

When I began writing there was a very small community of Canadian writers and little attention was paid by the world. Now Canadian writers are read, admired and respected around the globe. I’m so thrilled to be chosen as this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature recipient. I hope it fosters further interest in all Canadian writers. I also hope that this brings further recognition to the short story form.

Munro is the author most recently of the short-story collection Dear Life (McClelland & Stewart), which she had previously declared would be her last book. Born in Wingham, Ontario, she continues to live for part of the year in Southern Ontario, where many of her stories are set.

In a phone interview with the Nobel committee, Munro indicated that, in fact, there may be more stories to come. “I’ve been writing and publishing since I was about 20,” she said. “That’s a long time to be working, and I thought, ‘Maybe it’s time to take it easy.’ But this may change my mind.”

Munro has long been considered in the running for the Nobel. In her distinguished career she has also received the Man Booker International Prize, the Scotiabank Giller Prize (twice), and the Governor General’s Literary Award (three times).

Munro is published in Canada by McClelland & Stewart, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Her work is published in paperback by Penguin Canada, which released a paperback edition of Dear Life this week.

In a brief statement, the Swedish Academy in charge of the Nobel noted simply that Munro is a “master of the contemporary short story.” A tweet from the academy claims that they informed Munro of her win via phone message.

The prize is estimated to be worth roughly $1.3 million.


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Munro honoured with $10,000 Harbourfront Festival Prize

(photo: Derek Shapton)

The International Festival of Authors announced today that this year’s recipient of the Harbourfront Festival Prize, worth $10,000, is Alice Munro. The perennial Nobel Prize contender will be honoured with the prize for her contributions to Canada’s literary community and the next generation of talent.

The prize will be awarded Nov. 2, the closing night of the festival, at a special tribute to Munro, who announced her retirement from writing in June. The evening will be hosted by Douglas Gibson, Munro’s publisher of nearly 40 years, and attended by the author’s colleagues, family, and other members of the literary community who will present readings from her work.

Munro was selected for the prize by a jury consisting of Q&Q publisher Alison Jones, Toronto Star books and visual arts editor Dianne Rinehart, and IFOA director Geoffrey E. Taylor.

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Event photos: highlights from spring launches, awards, and parties

As the spring season winds down, here are just a few highlights from the past month’s many award ceremonies, receptions, parties, and launches.

Click on the thumbnails to browse the slideshow.

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CBA Libris Awards announced

Yesterday at the Toronto Congress Centre, Terry Fallis was awarded the Libris Author award, beating out Will Ferguson, Alice Munro, and Nancy Richler.

Alice Munro, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award

Ferguson had his own victory when he took home the fiction prize for his novel 419 (Penguin Canada), and Munro was honoured with a lifetime achievement award.

The CBA Libris Awards are voted on by independent booksellers, recognizing literary achievement and contributions from members of the book industry.

The winners are:

Terry Fallis

419, Will Ferguson (Penguin Canada)

The Inconvenient Indian, Thomas King (Doubleday Canada)

BookLore Stores (Orangeville, ON)

Specialty Bookseller
Mabel’s Fables (Toronto, ON)

Campus Bookseller
University of Toronto Bookstore (Toronto, ON)

Young Reader
Such Wicked Intent, Kenneth Oppel (HarperCollins Canada)

Iris Tupholme, HarperCollins Canada

Sales Rep
Morgen Young, Ampersand

Picture Books
This Is Not My Hat, Jon Klassen (Candlewick Press)

Penguin Canada

Small Press
Cormorant Books

Random House of Canada

CBA’s Libris Lifetime Achievement Award
Alice Munro and Jack Rabinovitch

Young Bookseller of  the Year
Michael Bumstead, Whodunit? Mystery Bookstore (Winnipeg, MB)

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Trillium Book Award finalists announced

The Trillium Book Award shortlists have been released for English- and French-language books, English-language poetry and French-language children’s literature.

English finalists:

Poetry in English:

  •  Mathew Henderson, The Lease (Coach House)
  • Sandy Pool, Undark: An Oratorio (Nightwood Editions)
  • Matthew Tierney, Probably Inevitable (Coach House)

French finalists:

  • Claude Guilmain, Comment on dit ça, « t’es mort », en anglais? (Les Éditions L’Interligne)
  • Christel Larosière (pseudonym of Daniel Soha), Le manuscri (Éditions du Gref)
  • Marie-Josée Martin, Un jour, ils entendront mes silences (Éditions David)
  • Michèle Matteau, Avant que ne tombe la nuit (Les Éditions L’Interligne)
  • Paul Savoie, Bleu bémol (Éditions David)

Children’s literature in French:

  • Claude Forand, Un moine trop bavard (Éditions David)
  • Michèle Laframboise, Mica, fille de Transyl (Éditions Vents d’Ouest)
  • Daniel Marchildon, Les guerriers de l’eau (Les Éditions du Vermillon)
The winners will be announced at a presentation dinner in Toronto June 18. On June 17, the finalists will read from their nominated works at the Bram & Bluma Appel Salon in the Toronto Reference Library at 7:00 p.m.
Award recipients will each receive $20,000, and their respective publishers will also receive $2,500 to promote the winning titles. All finalists receive a $500 honorarium.


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