When Alice Munro was announced as the winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature, Canadians greeted the news of their native daughter's victory with delight.
Since 1968, the 82-year-old Munro has crafted short stories about ordinary people who experience moments of blinding insight while living ordinary small-town lives. Here, Jane Moss, director of Duke's Center for Canadian Studies, offers five reasons to celebrate Munro's life and work.
1. Alice Munro is the first Canadian to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, an astonishing fact given the impressive number of world-class writers that Canada has produced like Margaret Atwood, Margaret Laurence, Carol Shields, Nicole Brossard, Anne Hebert, Dany Laferriere, Hugh MacLennan, Yann Martel and Mordecai Richler.
2. Having won the Canadian Governor General's Literary Award three times, the Giller Prize twice, the O. Henry Award, the Man Booker International Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, plus numerous other awards, Munro now takes her rightful place among the literary giants.
3. While her main protagonists are frequently complex women, Munro depicts her male characters with great sympathy so the human experiences she chronicles appeal to all readers and are devoid of overt political messages.
4. The international recognition should encourage English-language filmmakers to look to Munro for inspiration. Her story "The Bear Came Over the Mountain" was the adapted by Canadian Sarah Polley for the Oscar-nominated 2006 film Away from Her, starring Julie Christie as a woman afflicted with early onset Alzheimer's.
5. The best reason to celebrate may be that this honor should convince Munro not to retire as she told Canada's National Post she would earlier this year. Readers are still very much interested in the Southern Ontario small-town world of Munro's fiction.