(USA TODAY) Alice Munro, the Canadian short story writer, has won the Nobel Prize in literature. She's arguably the most popular writer to win the prestigious award - worth $1.2 million and given for a body of work, not a specific title - since Toni Morrison, the last American to win, did so in 1993.
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Munro, 82, has been celebrated for her accessible and moving stories, set mostly in the small towns of her native Ontario.She told The Toronto Globe and Mail earlier this year that she planned to retire after Dear Life, her 14th story collection. (In a 4-star review, USA TODAY's Claudia Puig called the stories "spare, graceful and beautifully crafted.")
Asked by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Thursday if winning the Nobel would change her plans, Munro said, "I don't think so, no. I am getting old."
Announcing the award in Stockholm, the Swedish Academy praised Munro as a "master of the contemporary short story."
In a statement, Munro said: "This is so surprising and wonderful. I am dazed by all the attention and affection that has been coming my way this morning. It is such an honour to receive this wonderful recognition from the Nobel Committee and I send them my thanks. When I began writing there was a very small community of Canadian writers and little attention was paid by the world. Now Canadian writers are read, admired and respected around the globe. I'm so thrilled to be chosen as this year's Nobel Prize for Literature recipient. I hope it fosters further interest in all Canadian writers. I also hope that this brings further recognition to the short story form."
She's the 13th woman to win the Nobel in literature since the awards began in 1901. (Herta Muller won in 2009 and Doris Lessing in 2007.) Frequently published in The New Yorker, Munro's stories have been included in Best American Short Stories and the O. Henry Awards.
Her selection was only a bit of an upset - at least to British bookmakers who had tagged Japan's Haruki Murakami as the Nobel front-runner, just ahead of Munro.
She began writing as a teenager and published her first story, "The Dimensions of a Shadow," in 1950 while still a student at the University of Western Ontario. She also worked as a waitress, a tobacco picker and a library clerk.