Alice Munro, the Canadian short story writer, has been named the winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature. In recent years, the prize has gone to an international cast of authors: China’s Mo Yan in 2012, the Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer in 2011, the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa in 2010, and Herta Müller in 2009, a German novelist and poet born in Romania.
Ms. Munro, who is 82, has had a long and distinguished career built exclusively on the short story. Her win is notable for a number of reasons—she is the 13th woman to win the award since 1901, and her naming comes at a time when many see a resurgence in the popularity of the short story.
In a statement released by Knopf, her American publisher, Munro had this to say: "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 began her career at a relatively late age. She was 37 years old when her first collection, Dance of the Happy Shades, was published in 1968. Although she has stated that she originally considered short story writing as “practice,” Munro stuck with the form. It has served her and her many readers well. She is a recognized master, a writer who can at once be considered a regional writer—her stories are almost exclusively set in rural Canada—but whose treatment of relationships, subtle humor, and play with the chronology of storytelling have made her a world-wide star. Before the announcement, the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami was listed as the front-runner—given 5-2 odds by Ladbrokes, the British bookmaker. Munro had been given 4-1 odds.Winning the Nobel represents a financial windfall for Munro. She will receive 8 million Swedish kronor, which is about $1.2 million. The prize committee generally calls the winner by phone; it is reported that they had to leave a message for Ms. Munro, who was eventually notified by her daughter that she had been awarded the prize.
Munro is the author of 14 short story collections, the most recent being Dear Life, published in 2012. Last year, she informed The Globe & Mail that it would be her last.