All stories relating to Alice Munro
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.
Click on the links to read archived reviews of Alice Munro’s latest titles:
Dear Life, 2012
Too Much Happiness, 2009
Runaway, October, 2004
The Love of a Good Woman, 1998
Selected Stories, October 1996
Biographies and essays
Alice Munro: Writing Her Lives by Robert Thacker, 2005
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.
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.
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.
Yesterday at the Toronto Congress Centre, Terry Fallis was awarded the Libris Author award, beating out Will Ferguson, Alice Munro, and Nancy Richler.
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:
419, Will Ferguson (Penguin Canada)
The Inconvenient Indian, Thomas King (Doubleday Canada)
BookLore Stores (Orangeville, ON)
Mabel’s Fables (Toronto, ON)
University of Toronto Bookstore (Toronto, ON)
Such Wicked Intent, Kenneth Oppel (HarperCollins Canada)
Iris Tupholme, HarperCollins Canada
Morgen Young, Ampersand
This Is Not My Hat, Jon Klassen (Candlewick Press)
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)
The Trillium Book Award shortlists have been released for English- and French-language books, English-language poetry and French-language children’s literature.
- Tamara Faith Berger, Maidenhead (Coach House Books)
- Steven Heighton, The Dead Are More Visible (Knopf Canada)
- Thomas King, The Inconvenient Indian (Doubleday Canada)
- Alice Munro, Dear Life (McClelland & Stewart)
- Emily Schultz, The Blondes (Doubleday Canada)
- Linda Spalding, The Purchase (M&S)
Poetry in English:
- Mathew Henderson, The Lease (Coach House)
- Sandy Pool, Undark: An Oratorio (Nightwood Editions)
- Matthew Tierney, Probably Inevitable (Coach House)
- 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)
Sustainable paper advocate Canopy has two new high-profile faces to add to its conservation initiative. Yann Martel and Alice Munro have partnered with the Vancouver-based not-for-profit to release special, signed editions of Life of Pi (Knopf Canada) and Dear Life (McClelland & Stewart) on “treeless” paper.
The collectors’ editions will be printed on the company’s straw-based paper, created from a blend of wheat straw, flax straw, and recycled paper. Dubbed Second Harvest Paper, it is made from straw left over after the grain harvest, and its production uses fewer chemicals and less energy and water than traditional paper.
The Martel and Munro reprints are part of a campaign to create an alternative to logging forests for paper. But they aren’t the first novelists to draw attention to the initiative. In October 2011, Margaret Atwood partnered with Canopy to print a special limited edition of In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination (M&S), which became the first book in North America to be printed on straw paper.
The success of the collection prompted Winnipeg-based Prairie Pulp & Press to produce a similar paper for consumer use. Manufactured in India and made from 80 per cent straw and 20 per cent Forest Stewardship Council–certified wood fibre, Step Forward Paper became available in Staples stores in August.
Martel and Munro’s books are available exclusively via Canopy’s online store. Life of Pi was released today, while Dear Life (which can be pre-ordered) will be available by mid-April.
In the December issue of Q&Q, Scott MacDonald asks: how do you edit one of the most precise writers working in the English language? According to Alice Munro’s long-time U.S. and Canadian editors, even a master can sometimes use a helpful nudge (but not too often)
It’s hard to imagine anyone editing Alice Munro, possibly the most precise writer in the English language. Munro doesn’t build sentences by accretion in the manner of verbose writers like Norman Mailer or Salman Rushdie – she works by paring away, by deciding what words not to use.
And yet Munro has not one, not even two, but three editors, all of whom have a hand in guiding her work: Deborah Treisman at The New Yorker, where many of Munro’s stories first see the light of day; Douglas Gibson at McClelland & Stewart, who has been Munro’s Canadian editor since her 1978 collection, Who Do You Think You Are?; and Anne Close at Knopf, her long-time U.S. publisher.
Speaking to Close and Gibson prior to the publication of Munro’s 14th collection, Dear Life, I asked them a sincere but potentially rude question: exactly what is it the three of them do?
“We don’t have to do much,” laughs Close, the hint of a southern drawl in her voice. “With many of Alice’s stories, they come in and none of us touches a word. But every now and then there are stories she’s a little stuck on and one of us will give a suggestion that proves helpful.”
According to Close, every story follows one of two editorial paths. If it’s destined for The New Yorker, it goes to Treisman first. Close and Gibson may not even see it until it’s printed in the magazine. If it’s not a New Yorker piece (or slated for publication elsewhere), it goes directly to Close and Gibson, and Treisman doesn’t read it at all. In every case, the buck stops with the two book editors. “Doug and I kinda get the final say,” says Close.
Generally, Munro needs no assistance with character, word choice, or mechanics, but she does look to her editors for advice on structure and clarity. She mails a copy of the story to each of them, and they jot down their thoughts in the margins. Annotated copies are then sent to Munro and the other editors. Munro discusses the changes via phone, often a number of times, then hammers out the final version.
As Munro’s most dedicated fans know, The New Yorker stories can be noticeably different from the versions that appear in the collections. Many of them are shorter, due to the magazine’s space restrictions. Gibson sometimes makes “Canadian corrections” to The New Yorker pieces, such as restoring Munro’s original references to “university” rather than “college.”
Some stories, like “The Progress of Love,” which appeared in a 1986 volume of the same name, get drastically rethought. Originally written in the first person, the point-of-view changed to the third person for The New Yorker. Having read both versions, Close told Munro she thought the original was better, and that was what ultimately appeared in the book.
But that’s one of the more extreme examples. More commonly, only the story endings are significantly revised. As Close explains, Munro has an enormous appetite for revision, and she’s especially prone to rethinking her final passages.
“She’ll work on those endings for a long time,” says Close, adding that this is where she and Gibson tend to be most useful. “Most writers write very ambiguous endings because they don’t want to be too obvious. So I’ll say, ‘What’s this mean?’ or ‘What’s that mean?’ I’ll keep after her until she gets it a little clearer.”
When enough stories have been amassed for a collection – generally once every three years – the next step is to decide how to order them. In some cases, Munro determines this herself in advance. Other times, such as with Dear Life, she is open to suggestions.
According to Close, Munro knew she wanted the book to begin with the story “To Reach Japan,” and wanted it to end with four largely autobiographical “not-quite-stories,” but she was unsure of the rest. After “trying things around,” as Close puts it, Gibson came up with an order that worked for everyone.
Often, there’s at least one story they aren’t able to place, and it’ll be set aside for a future collection. The story “Wood,” for instance, was held back from three different collections before finally making it into 2009’s Too Much Happiness.
“It was in good enough shape to publish, but it just never seemed to fit,” says Close, adding that Munro reworked the story a little more each time. “It kept getting better, of course, so by the time it got published it was quite a wonderful, exceptional story.”
From there, all that’s left are the basics: typesetting the book, copy editing, and writing the flap copy. Thinking back on the process, both Gibson and Close agree their most valuable contribution is reassuring Munro that a story is done.
Close recalls how, a few years ago, when the 1990s story “The Love of a Good Woman” was being reprinted in a best-of collection, Munro mused aloud about shifting some of its elements again.
“I had to keep telling her, ‘No, it’s fine the way it is.’”
Actors Kristen Wiig, Hailee Steinfeld, Guy Pearce, and Nick Nolte have signed on to star in the indie film Hateship, Friendship based on Alice Munro’s short story “Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage.” The screenplay was written by writer Mark Jude Poirier, who previously adapted his own novel Smart People in 2008. Liza Johnson, who wrote and directed the indie drama Return, is set to direct.
The film explores polarizing relationships between three generations. Wiig plays a nanny charged with the care of a rebellious teenager (Steinfeld), who in turn attempts to set up a romance between Wiig’s character and her absentee father (Pearce), who battles drugs and other demons. Further drama unfolds in the form of the girl’s grandfather (Nolte), who blames Pearce’s character for the death of his daughter, the girl’s mother.
This won’t be the first time a story from Munro’s 2001 collection Hateship, Friendship Courtship, Loveship, Marriage has been adapted for screen. In 2006, Sarah Polley turned the short story “A Bear Came Over the Mountain” into the film Away From Her, earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Filming for Hateship, Friendship is set to begin in New Orleans next week.