2013 Nobel Literature Prize
Charly Morales Valido
THE Canadian writer Alice Munro may
have summed up the principal human themes which
impel her literature in her book Hateship,
Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage. And
these, her personal demons, are so insightfully
drawn that even if she might not have attained
literary perfection, she came close enough for the
Swedish Academy to award her the coveted Nobel Prize.
It was moreover, a recognition of
short fiction writers, almost always overshadowed by
poets and novelists, as if volume were important in
terms of knowing how to express things.
In fact, Munro’s work honors the
axiom that the good, if short, is twice as good.
The 82-year-old author confided that
she was surprised and very grateful to become the
13th woman to win the world’s most prestigious
She was particularly pleased knowing
that it would make many Canadians happy. "I am also
happy because this brings more attention to Canadian
literature," affirmed the author of The Progress
of Love (1986) and Open Secrets (1994).
Her stories inspired by the human
condition made her known as the Chekhov of Canada,
in reference to the Russian writer Anton Chekhov, an
eloquent epithet in relation to her demons and
concerns as a writer.
The laureate commented that she
really hoped that this makes people see short
fiction as an important art and not just something
with which someone plays around with for a while
before writing a novel.
Although her short stories have been
published in eminent magazines such as the New
Yorker, Munro was little noticed for her
attachment to this literary genre.
The Guardian greeted the
choice of Munro, noting the dissimulated grace of
her unpredictable stories, in which emotion erupts
and surprises proliferate. "Salvation arrives when
least expected, and in peculiar forms," notes the
As opposed to the majority of Nobel
Literature laureates, Munro has just one novel,
Lives of Girls and Women, but has portrayed an
infinity of characters in her stories of the human
and the divine.
The Nobel Prize is the culmination
of the prolific career of Munro, who announced this
past June in an interview with the Canadian
National Post that she would probably not be
writing any more.
Alice Anne Laidlaw, her birth name,
was born in 1931 in an environment little open to
literature, a passion that ensnared her as a child
and which she undertook in silence, like a forbidden
act, for many years.
When she was still studying
journalism at the University of Western Ontario, she
had already sold a story to CBC radio, and abandoned
her career to marry her student colleague James
Munro, who gave her her last name, three children
and a depression which prevented her from writing.
However, in 1963, the couple opened
a bookstore and, five years later, Alice published
her first book of short stories, Dance of the
Happy Shades, which won the Governor Prize.
She divorced James Munro and married
geographer Gerald Fremlin, a relationship which
seemingly gave greater stimulation to her creative