It’s no secret Alice Munro’s short stories contain some of the most poignant writing this century and the last have seen. Her work explores the everyday complexities of human relationships while painting a vivid picture of small town life. When announcing the Canadian writer had won the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday, the Nobel Committee called Munro “master of the contemporary short story.” The New York Times says of her oeuvre:
Ms. Munro revolutionized the architecture of short stories, often beginning a story in an unexpected place and then moving backward or forward in time. She brought a modesty and subtle wit to her work that her admirers often traced to her background growing up in rural Canada. She said she fell into writing short stories, the form that would make her famous, somewhat by accident.
“For years and years I thought that stories were just practice, till I got time to write a novel,” she told The New Yorker in 2012. “Then I found that they were all I could do, and so I faced that. I suppose that my trying to get so much into stories has been a compensation.”
And Munro is reportedly quite pleased that she won. The only thing is the Swedish Academy hasn’t been able to reach her to personally inform her about her prize. As The Atlantic puts it, this makes for one hell of a story:
Alice Munro, either through the worst timing or the best, now has a fantastic story to tell. The newest winner of the Noble Prize in Literature doesn’t have to recall the moment of her win. She can replay it for herself, over and over, as many times as she wants.
Because she wasn’t around, apparently, when the Swedish Academy tried to call her to inform her of the news. So the Swedish Academy did what any would-be message-deliverer finally will when the phone goes un-picked-up: It left her a voicemail.
Whether this was an accident on Munro’s part or a stroke of genius, the result is the same: Alice Munro, renowned writer of short stories, now has a long-lasting piece of Nobel memorabilia. Saved in her voicemail.
Nobelprize.org tweeted that it wasn’t able to contact the 82-year-old to fill her in on the incredibly good news (not only does a Nobel recipient receive acknowledgement out the wazoo, he or she also gets 8 million Swedish kronor, which is about $1.2 million). And though Munro has definitely been informed of her accomplishment (her publisher, Penguin Random House, relayed that she was “amazed, and very grateful”) the Nobel Committee tweeted that it can’t reach her for an interview. And included in the tweet is none other than a recording of the Nobel winner’s outgoing message. But have no fear, apparently the elusive Munro has been reached at last:
That there’s definitely one for the books.
—Posted by Natasha Hakimi
(AP/Peter Morrison, file)
Alice Munro lives in Clinton, Canada.