Munro, Alice

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Munro, Alice

Alice Munro, 1931–, Canadian writer, b. Wingham, Ont., as Alice Ann Laidlaw. Much acclaimed as one of the finest contemporary short-story writers, Munro is known for quiet, insightfully realistic, and irony-tinged works that deal with daily life and are written in elegantly sharp, dispassionate prose. Her tales are mainly about the lives of girls and women, are often set in rural Ontario, and moving backward and forward in time, frequently concern the conflicts between independence and domesticity, creativity and obligation. Other recurring themes in her fiction include the interrelatedness of poverty and shame, the subtleties of class distinctions, the intricacies of women's sexuality, and the complex problems of the female artist. Collections of her many stories include Dance of the Happy Shades (1968), Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You (1974), The Beggar Maid (1979), The Moons of Jupiter (1982), The Progress of Love (1986), Friend of My Youth (1990), The Love of a Good Woman (1998), Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage (2001), Runaway (2004), Carried Away (2006), and Too Much Happiness (2009). The stories in The View from Castle Rock (2006) mingle fiction, history, and memoir, tracing Munro's family from 17th-century Scotland to modern Canada. Her 14th collection, Dear Life (2012), contains a semiautobiographical section, the only writing Munro has said at least partially concerns her own life. She also has written one novel, Lives of Girls and Women (1971). She announced her retirement from writing in 2013. Munro was awarded the Man Booker International Prize in 2009 and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013.

See S. Munro (her daughter), Lives of Mothers and Daughters: Growing Up with Alice Munro (2001); biographies by E. D. Blodgett (1988) and R. Thacker (2011); studies by L. K. MacKendrick, ed. (1983), H. Dahlie (1984), W. R. Martin (1987), I. de P. Carrington (1989), J. Carscallen (1993), A. Heble (1994), C. A. Howells (1998), R. Thacker, ed. (1999), J. McCaig (2002), H. Bloom (2009), I. Duncan (2011), and C. E. May (2012).

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