By Melissa Platero, CCNN Writer
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the Nobel prize in literature to 82-year-old short story writer, Alice Munro. The woman they describe as a “master of the [modern] short story” is the 13th female to win the prize in Nobel history, and her publisher, Penguin Random House, said she felt “amazed and very grateful.”
Munro, who knew she wanted to be a writer ever since she was a teenager, originally just wrote short stories as nothing more than practice for a full-length novel. That is, until she found “that they were all I could do, and so I faced that.”
Ever since, the crafty wordspinner changed has the very way short stories are written, often starting her tales in the most unexpected of places or jumping back-and-forth in time.
The proud Canadian is “glad that winning this award will please so many Canadians.” It will surely please her bank account as well, with the $1.2 million prize that comes with it.
However, it’s more about the art than the money for Munro, as she expressed, “I would really hope this would make people see the short story as an important art, not just something you played around with until you got a novel.” See, normally it’s big ol’ novels or fancy poetry that wins the Nobel in literature, so this is a big deal for short story writers all around.
Her simple and down-to-earth attitude towards winning is not so surprising, considering her writing style is simple as well. However, dig beneath the surface, and her human characters come alive with deeply complicated emotions and convincing behavior.
As for those poor American writers hoping to snatch the golden coin, they haven’t won a Nobel prize in literature since Toni Morrison in 1993, 20 years ago. Ouch! Well, it’s not easy, because authors are judged on their lifetime’s work, not just a particular book. If a tale-weaving genius happens to live a long life and attract tons of positive attention, but then keels over dead in their 70s or 80s, they’ll never get the award! The Nobel only goes to the living.
Speaking of which, Munro said that when it comes to aging, she’s relaxed about it. “I worry less than I did,” she explained. “There’s nothing you can do about it, and it’s better than being dead. I feel that I’ve done what I wanted to do, and that makes me feel fairly content.” Well, I suppose nabbing that Nobel and having a widely-respected collection of stories would make someone relaxed about how they’ve spent their precious lifetime, huh?
Images courtesy of Alice Munro Facebook.