Hats Off To Alice Munro: Nobel Laureate in Literature
Canadian writers and readers are celebrating this week, basking in a little reflected glory and a bit of literary nationalist pride. The last time a Canadian won the Nobel Prize for Literature was way back in 1976, when it was awarded to Saul Bellow, and he is only considered Canadian because he was born in Quebec. His family moved to Chicago when he was nine, and his fiction is largely about urban, intellectual life there. By contrast, Alice Munro’s work is Canadian to the core, often set in small Canadian towns and about ‘ordinary’ people’s lives.
Alice Munro has won so very many prestigious literary awards, it really shouldn’t be a surprise that the Nobel committee has chosen her. She is 82 years old and claims she will write no more, so this is a most fitting, and aptly timed, crowning reward for a lifetime of achievement.
I regret to say I’ve only read a small number of her stories, but I intend to correct that oversight. The most important reward for literary prizes isn’t the money: it is that it sends people back to read the writer. I’m sure readership is the best legacy any writer could want.