At long last, Alice Munro, the woman and her words, awarded the ultimate literary prize, the Nobel.
She has not spent her life longing for this, or for acclaim, fame, celebrity or the desire to obtain the trappings of a luxurious lifestyle. It’s been about the work, about the perfection of each sentence, within each story.
She tells lifetime events in paragraphs so still and yet so active with life that one reading is never enough. I was given Dance of the Happy Shades by my mother. It was Munro’s first book; she was 37 when it was published. I was 18 years old, and still remember the story, as if I read it yesterday.
Through more than 40 years I have read everything she gave us, waited for each new story, collection, book. Earlier this year she announced she was finished writing, not tired of writing, but done. And it is a job well done, in a career she correctly noted is hard work, not glamorous activity. In Canada, away from the fancy parties, high-end dinners, televisions appearances and all the rest of the glitter that’s become part of the identity of the successful writer, Alice Munro wrote, and wrote and wrote. Her stories make me think in a more nuanced and textured way, have offered a wider world inside the smaller ones she detailed. She made me understand the nobility of this craft.
Alice Munro’s Nobel Prize is a victory for all women, not just writers, published ones or otherwise, but for all of us. Alice Munro gave women’s stories importance — our small and large decisions, triumphs and disappointments. She encapsulated the complexity of relationships, their inherent heartbreak as well as life-affirming connections. She has done this as no other writer in my time. Alice Munro’s stories tell us that we matter, that even if hidden from the urban throb of excitement, women’s lives matter — that we exist – that we continue to hold our place in the continuity of humanity, that we are present in the moment itself.
And so, to Alice Munro, a thank you beyond the power of words to convey, for all you have given so many of us. Celebrate with us as we celebrate you. Your modesty and humility have never failed to move and impress me, but this is your moment to soar. I am floating high above earth on a cloud that says… YES, YES … Alice Munro The Nobel Winner, a woman for all our lives, for all time.