Alice Munro, the Nobel Prize winner who explained the meaning of life in short stories, dies

Alice Munro, the Canadian writer and 2013 Nobel Prize winner who, with her short stories, examined everyday life in greater depth than many others with hundreds of pages, died Monday night at her home in Ontario, her family confirmed this Tuesday.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
14 May 2024 Tuesday 04:23
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Alice Munro, the Nobel Prize winner who explained the meaning of life in short stories, dies

Alice Munro, the Canadian writer and 2013 Nobel Prize winner who, with her short stories, examined everyday life in greater depth than many others with hundreds of pages, died Monday night at her home in Ontario, her family confirmed this Tuesday. She was 92 years old and suffered from dementia for more than a decade. She always promised herself to write a novel, but she never got around to it.

In a 2009 interview in La Vanguardia he assured that he was no longer fit for a normal life. “I've been writing for so many years that I don't know how to do anything else,” she noted. “I know that I am happy when an idea comes to me and I can get to work in a structured way, and I also know that I am not very good at taking vacations.”

He had just published The View from Castle Rock, followed shortly after by Too Much Happiness, and in 2012 he would arrive My Darling Life, which would be his last work a year before the world's highest literary award and when dementia was already beginning to manifest. But that last book acted as a culmination in some way, because in addition to the autobiographical aspects to which he often resorted - his stories were usually set in his native county of Huron - some of his stories had already appeared before in other books, in other versions, a common practice for the writer. Lumen published her work in Spanish and part of it has appeared in Catalan in Club Editor.

Throughout his literary life he had to fight against ostracism. Her forms and themes were largely ignored until her reputation grew as she became a mature writer. She was then baptized “the Chekhov of Canada.”

His stories of apparently simple people, with a non-dramatic style located in small Canadian towns, became increasingly relevant and achieved success and recognition.

Margaret Atwook placed her among “the leading English fiction writers of our time.” Jonathan Franzen argued that Munro is "one of the handful of writers, some living, most dead, who I have in mind when I say that fiction is my religion", while Salman Rushdie considered her "one of the great teachers.”

Munro was born Alice Laidlaw in Wingham, Ontario, on July 10, 1931, into a Depression-era farming family. She began writing short stories as a teenager and attended the University of Western Ontario on a scholarship.

There she met Jim Munro, her first husband, who was a bookseller and with whom she had four daughters, one of whom died shortly after birth. Her other three (Sheila, Jenny and Andrea) have survived her.

The couple divorced in 1972 and she married Gerald Fremlin, a cartographer and geographer whom she had also met in her university days. As a young wife and mother, Ella Munro took advantage of moments between doing laundry or boiling potatoes to dedicate herself to what she was passionate about: writing.

He wrote about rural Ontario, known as the souwesto. Those landscapes were the lifeblood of his imagination. “They poisoned me,” she said on one occasion. “I'm in my brick house, the falling-down barns, the trailer parks, the old, stodgy churches, the Wal-Mart and the Canadian Tire (two retail stores), and I speak their language,” she said.

She also often spoke the intimate and rebellious language of the relationships between mothers and daughters, a context from which her book The Life of Women (1971) emerged, her first collection of short stories created to form a volume and for which she was awarded.

“Alice has a special gift for intimacy and friendship, not least because of her fascinating conversational skills,” said her friend and novelist Jane Urquhart. “She was very interested in her human colleagues, trying to understand the work of her lives,” she added.

When she was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature, academics highlighted her mastery in writing contemporary short stories. She was the first Canadian to receive this distinction.

Literary critics emphasize that Munro highlighted the beauty of words. As she grew older, her perspective on life and love in her stories became more sophisticated, but she always remained accessible to her legions of readers, who read and reread her fiction to discover their own. lives and loves.

His stories began to be published in Canadian magazines and, little by little, he gathered enough material to group them in 1968 in the collection titled Dance of the Shadows. She received praise from The New York Times, where from reading it they concluded that short stories “are alive and well in Canada.”

From there he wanted to concentrate on writing a long novel. She failed. She admitted that “she wasn't breathing, she wasn't attached, something was limp.” So she chose to divide that work into short stories and that led to the emergence of The Lives of Women.

This work was considered a manifesto for Munro's own work since Del, the narrator, stops pursuing the gothic novel and focuses on the simple, amazing and unfathomable boring lives around her.

Then came a time of transformation with her second marriage and the publication of her first story in The New Yorker, in 1977, which marked a turning point. That's where his great progress towards fame began. Without giving up his dream, he tried again and again to delve into the novel. “Between each book I consider that now is the time to do a serious task, but it doesn't work,” she acknowledged.

His reputation continued to grow as his stories gained depth and complexity, especially after Who Do You Think You Are? There is the expression of her pursuit of authenticity that made Munro an unrivaled chronicler of sexual politics, infatuation, deceit and desire.

A heart operation in 2001 increased his perception of his own mortality, which increased his writing about illness and memory. In 2008 she published a story in The New Yorker about a cancer patient, preceding his own diagnosis a year later.

“All my life I have written personal stories,” he stressed in an interview with The Guardian in 2013, the year of the Nobel Prize. “I hope they are a good read,” he added, “I hope they move people. When I like a story it is because it does something to you, a blow to the chest.”