Reactions to Alice Munro’s Nobel Prize

October 10, 2013

Pulitzer Prize-winner and author of “The Virgin Suicides,” “Middlesex” and “The Marriage Plot” Jeffrey Eugenides:

People talk about Munro being a “master of the short-story form.’’ But she didn’t master the form so much as re-create it. Her traditional-seeming stories are anything but. She’ll shift multiple points of view or time schemes — hair-raisingly complicated stuff — not to show off formally but to find a means of packing her stories with maximum density. She’s the most savage writer I’ve ever read, also the most tender, the most honest, the most perceptive. This is one of those years where no one can complain about the Nobel Committee’s choice. I’m so incredibly happy that she won.

Rea Award for the Story Story-winner Lorrie Moore:

The selection of the brilliant Alice Munro is a thrilling one, a triumph for short-story writers everywhere who have held her work in awe from its beginning. It is also a triumph for her translators, who have done excellent work in conveying her greatness to those not reading in the English she wrote down. This may have to do with her enduring themes and sturdy if radical narrative architecture, but these seem to have been served well by careful translation. If short stories are about life and novels are about the world, one can see Munro’s capacious stories as being a little about both: Fate and time and love are the things she is most interested in, as well as their unexpected outcomes. She reminds us that love and marriage never become unimportant as stories — that they remain the very shapers of life, rightly or wrongly. She does not overtly judge — especially human cruelty — but allows human encounters to speak for themselves. She honors mysteriousness and is a neutral beholder before the unpredictable. Part of her genius is in the strange detail that resurfaces, but it is also in the largeness of vision being brought to bear (and press on) a smaller genre or form that has few such wide-seeing practitioners. She is a short-story writer who is looking over and past every ostensible boundary, and has thus reshaped an idea of narrative brevity and re-imagined what a story can do.

Pulitzer Prize-winner Elizabeth Strout is the editor of “The Best American Short Stories 2013”:

“Alice Munro taught me things about writing that are immeasurable; she has dared in a quiet, steady way, to go places of deep honesty. I will always remember the first time I read her story “Royal Beatings.” I thought: Look what she did — she has told the truth completely. And reading her story “White Dump” for the first time — I remember that too. I thought — look what she does, she goes wherever she wants, and I go with her. The authority she brings to the page is just lovely.”

Story Prize-winner Jim Shepard was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2007:

“I imagine fiction writers everywhere today are celebrating the Nobel committee having gotten it exactly right. There’s probably no one alive who’s better at the craft of the short story, or who has done more to revolutionize the use of time in that form, the result often being a twenty page story that demonstrates the breadth and scope of a novel.”

Author of “The Corrections” and National Book Award-winner Jonathan Franzen in 2005:

“Reading Munro puts me in that state of quiet reflection in which I think about my own life: about the decisions I’ve made, the things I’ve done and haven’t done, the kind of person I am, the prospect of death. She is one of the handful of writers, some living, most dead, whom I have in mind when I say that fiction is my religion.”

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