Canadian wins Nobel Prize in literature

Alice Munro
Alice Munro

Canadian writer Alice Munro has won this year’s Nobel Prize in literature.

More than a hundred reporters from around the world thronged and bustled in the Stock Exchange Building in Stockholm’s Old Town for about an hour before the doors to the Swedish Academy swung open.

Notably, there were many Japanese reporters present, hoping to break the news that Haruki Murakami had won the prize. Finally, the Swedish Academy’s Permanent Secretary Peter Englund stepped out from the doors and said Canadian short story writer won the prize.

The Swedish Academy, which selects Nobel literature winners, called her a “master of the contemporary short story”.

This may have to do with the frank intimacy of her tone, which is stripped of ornament and fuss, yet also, in its plainness, contains huge amounts of terrible, sublime, and contradictory feeling.

It may have to do with the fact that she writes mostly about women who want to escape some kind of confinement, who are hungry for experience above all else, and who attain it at a dear price.

They are elegant, wry, determined women. They are also subversives, and because they allow us into their lives.

It may have to do with her work being politically very safe.

Munro is the first Canadian writer to receive the prestigious $1.2m award since Saul Bellow, who won in 1976 and left for the US as a boy.

Munro’s writing has brought her numerous awards including a National Book Critics Circle prize for “Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage”. She is also a three-time winner of the Governor General’s Prize, Canada’s highest literary honour.

Last year’s Nobel literature award went to Mo Yan of China.

The 2013 Nobel announcements continue on Friday with the Nobel Peace Prize, followed by the economics prize on Monday.