Tue, 21 May 2024
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Nobel Prize-winning author Alice Munro dies aged 92

Update : 15 May 2024, 11:05

Nobel Prize-winning Canadian writer Alice Munro, whose exquisitely crafted tales of the loves, ambitions and travails of small-town women in her native land made her a globally acclaimed master of the short story, has died at the age of 92, her publisher said on Tuesday.

Munro had died at her home in Port Hope, Ontario, said Kristin Cochrane, chief executive officer of McClelland & Stewart. "Alice's writing inspired countless writers ... and her work leaves an indelible mark on our literary landscape," she said in a statement.

The Globe and Mail newspaper, citing family members, said Munro had died on Monday after suffering from dementia for at least a decade.

Munro published more than a dozen collections of short stories and was honoured with the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013.

Her stories explored sex, yearning, discontent, ageing, moral conflict and other themes in rural settings with which she was intimately familiar - villages and farms in the Canadian province of Ontario. She was adept at fully developing complex characters within the limited pages of a short story.

"Alice Munro was a Canadian literary icon. For six decades, her short stories captivated hearts around Canada and the world," Canadian Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge said on the X social media network. 

Munro, who wrote about ordinary people with clarity and realism, was often likened to Anton Chekhov, the 19th-century Russian known for his brilliant short stories - a comparison the Swedish Academy cited in honouring her with the Nobel Prize.

Calling her a "master of the contemporary short story," the Academy also said: "Her texts often feature depictions of everyday but decisive events, epiphanies of a kind, that illuminate the surrounding story and let existential questions appear in a flash of lightning."

In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation after winning the Nobel, Munro said, "I think my stories have gotten around quite remarkably for short stories, and I would really hope that this would make people see the short story as an important art, not just something that you played around with until you'd got a novel written." 

Her works included: "Dance of the Happy Shades" (1968), "Lives of Girls and Women" (1971), "Who Do You Think You Are?" (1978), "The Moons of Jupiter" (1982), "Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage" (2001), "Runaway" (2004), "The View from Castle Rock" (2006), "Too Much Happiness" (2009) and "Dear Life" (2012).

The characters in her stories were often girls and women who lead seemingly unexceptional lives but struggle with tribulations ranging from sexual abuse and stifling marriages to repressed love and the ravages of ageing.

"Last month I reread all of Alice Munro's books. I felt the need to be close to her. Every time I read her is a new experience. Every time changes me. She will live forever," leading Canadian author Heather O'Neill said in a post on X.

Munro's story of a woman who starts losing her memory and agrees to enter a nursing home titled "The Bear Came Over the Mountain," from "Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage," was adapted into the Oscar-nominated 2006 film "Away From Her," directed by fellow Canadian Sarah Polley. 

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