Oct 10, 2013 10:08 AM EDT
Nobel Prize Winner In Literature Announced: Alice Munro, A Short Story Pioneer, Plans to Retire in June
Short story pioneer Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for literature on Thursday. Her "visceral work explores the tangled relationships between men and women, small-town existence and the fallibility of memory," wrote The New York Times.
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Munro's win demonstrates the selective process for literature winners; at 82 years old, she announced her plans to retire in June and hasn't published anything since 2012, according to FOX News. Rather than reward writers for recent success as the other awards do, the Swedish Academy typically analyzes an entire career, according to the New York Times. Basically, it's nearly impossible to impress the committee with just one book or published work.
Munro made her name in short stories, a genre that's traditionally taken a back seat to the novel, according to The Times. Even she admits to her own second-rate perceptions.
"For years and years I thought that stories were just practice, till I got time to write a novel," she told The New Yorker in 2012. "Then I found that they were all I could do, and so I faced that. I suppose that my trying to get so much into stories has been a compensation."
"She has taken an art form, the short story, which has tended to come a little bit in the shadow behind the novel, and she has cultivated it almost to perfection," Peter Englund, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, told The Associated Press.
Munro didn't even begin to write seriously until 32 years old, according to Fox News. That year, she and her husband opened up a book store. Her close proximity to literature reinvigorated talents she'd been exploring since she was a teenager. Though her marriage eventually collapsed, she won the Governor's General prize - Canada's most prestigious literary award - five years later in 1968. She'd go on to win the award two more times, according to The Times.
Some have called her the best writer in North America, as per Fox News. Still, she wasn't even the favorite, according to The New York Times. A prominent British oddsmaking firm gave her 4-1 odds to win, slightly behind Japanese author Haruki Murakami's 5-2 stake. American Philip Roth was also reported in the running; an American hasn't won since 1993, according to The Times.
"I knew I was in the running, yes, but I never thought I would win," Munro told The Canadian Press.
The world won't know who Munro beat until 2063. According to The New York Times, the names of literary nominees aren't released until 50 years after their selection.
One of Munro's best-known stories is "The Bear Came Over The Mountain," which was adapted into the film, "Away From Her".