Alice Mun-woah: Alice Munro’s surprising Nobel Prize win

Will Hix (12) reads through Carried Away, a selection of Munro's short stories published in 2006.

Will H. (12) reads through Carried Away, a selection of Munro’s short stories published in 2006.

Alice Munro, a Canadian short story author, was recently announced as the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2013.

According to the Swedish Academy, the body that decides the award, she is the thirteenth woman to win the prize. In addition to the Nobel Prize, Munro was previously a winner of the Man Booker International Award in 2009.

Despite these qualifications and previous awards, many were unfamiliar with her works before the announcement.

“I hadn’t heard of Munro before the announcement,” Will F. (11) said.

In addition to relative obscurity, Munro had staunch competition to overcome.

Many anticipated Japanese writer Haruki Murakami to be 2013’s recipient. Murakami has for years been a speculated winner, but recently launched to further international fame after the release of his critically-acclaimed magnum opus, 1Q84, in 2011.

AP Literature teacher Amy Ostdiek concurred.

“I wasn’t familiar with Alice Munro before the award, and even then, I thought that Murakami was set to win,” Ostdiek said.

These inevitable comparisons to behemoth works like Murakami’s 1Q84 and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle help amplify the shockwaves the award sent out. Many in the literary world (including the committee) tend to focus on novels, while Munro has published none.

Despite this, however, the move is still praised among many. The literary merit apparent in her works is a contrast to the political nature of other recent Nobel laurates, and the return to a purely merit-based choice pleased many.

The Swedish Academy lauded Munro as “a master of the contemporary short story,” another contributing factor to her surprising win.

By Paul O’Neill


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