Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Writers Fete Short Story Great Alice Munro Ahead of Tuesday's Nobel Ceremony

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Writers Fete Short Story Great Alice Munro Ahead of Tuesday's Nobel Ceremony

Article excerpt

Writers fete Alice Munro on Nobel Prize

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TORONTO - Canadian short story master Alice Munro will be the toast of the book world Tuesday when her daughter Jenny receives the Nobel Prize in literature on her behalf in Stockholm.

Literature lovers have been sharing their thoughts about the honour and expressing their well wishes for the 82-year-old Wingham, Ont., native, who is the 110th Nobel laureate in literature and only the 13th woman to receive the distinction:

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London, Ont.-based Emma Donoghue, whose 2010 novel "Room" won a Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize and a Governor General's Literary Award:

"She's become a one-word celebrity. When people say 'Alice,' you know that we mean Alice Munro, and that rarely happens to writers. Like many readers, I firmly hope that she hasn't really retired (as she said she was going to). I would beg her to give us a story a year, at least, and never stop."

Donoghue said Munro was probably the first Canadian writer she ever read while growing up in Dublin. She called her "the absolute master of the genre" who "forces people to take short stories seriously and to see that there's no limit to what you can achieve in maybe 10 pages."

"I would say in particular, as a short story writer, that she's important to me because short stories -- this is not a good time for them, in general, and many readers are resistant to short stories, and the way to convert those readers is to say, 'Try Alice Munro!' Because her short stories offer the satisfactions that, in most cases, you only get in novels."

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Oakville, Ont.-raised Dennis Bock, a 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist for his novel "Going Home Again," also implored Munro to keep writing:

"If you can keep doing what you're doing, do it for as long as you can, because it's a gift for Canadian readers and readers around the world. ... I really hope she's got some more years left and some more books left, because the work is astonishing."

Bock said he first read Munro's work as a first-year university student in 1983, when his professor assigned "Dance of the Happy Shades."

"It was the first time I'd read literary fiction that used idioms that I used myself, that was set in locations and places that I knew, populated by characters that I knew or could very easily have known, doing things that were very ordinary and within my own experience.

"So it was sort of a gateway into my own literary imagination at that time, which was closer to home, where I was looking for some magic close to home -- some way of seeing the mundane in a new and spectacular way. And she did that, and she gave me and a whole bunch of other writers of my generation permission to look at what was right in front of them rather than having to go outside of our own experience. …

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