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Alice Munro

Updated: Jan 8

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I HAVE TO ADMIT that I’ve only read a couple of books by Alice Munro, so I’m no expert on her. But I will spend the next few months digging out copies of her books and reading them and I will tell my daughter about her. It is just so inspiring that on Thursday, Oct. 10, Alice was awarded the Nobel Literature Prize.  What a great day for Canadians and I will tell my daughter some stories about her (as I tell her about many other ordinary Canadians who do extraordinary things).

Munro is the 13th woman and the first Canadian woman to win this very auspicious prize.

Munro, who is 82, was given the award by the Swedish Academy during the Nobel announcement in Stockholm where they called her “the master of the contemporary short story.” She was born in Ontario in 1931 and studied journalism at the University of Western Ontario in London. She dropped out of school to marry James Munro, a fellow student and became a full-time housewife and mother of their children.  The family’s decision to open a bookstore in 1963 helped revive her interest in writing.  It isn’t that I want to encourage my daughter to drop out of school, but I want her to know you don’t have to do everything and accomplish everything in the first 20 or 30 or 40 years of life.

Sometimes it takes years and years to create something worthwhile. Sometimes the path winds in directions you weren’t expecting and you really have no idea what is coming. We never really know where life is going to take us.  

And sometimes we can work and work and work and get recognized and other times we don’t. It isn’t about the recognition. It is about staying dedicated to something and it is about always being a lifelong learner and being willing to take risks. In the article I read about Alice, she actually said she wasn’t going to write anymore books in 2006, and then at the age of 80 another one was published.

And here she is at 82 receiving an award she probably never dreamed of getting.

I also love this story because it highlights the power of aging, of growing older and wiser and having so much to contribute to the world at every age. I want my daughter to understand people of all ages have gifts and talents and dreams and are learning!  Alice is a very private person it appears and even after the announcement was not making herself available for many interviews. I heard Margaret Atwood say, after receiving many calls about the award Alice received, “come on Alice, come out from behind the tool shed.” I am sure they are good friends and it is Margaret’s way of encouraging her private, shy and humble friend to step out and receive the recognition that she deserves.  And that’s another story I’ll tell my daughter.

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