The Swedish Academy announced Thursday that 82-year-old author Alice Munro won the 2013 Nobel Prize for literature. She is the author of 14 story collections - the most recent of which, 2012's "Dear Life," she says will be her last. So what makes her so special?
She is a short story writer
Regarded as the Canadian Chekhov, Munro is known for her masterful short stories, which often explore the psyches of women and girls. In its announcement of the prize, the Swedish Academy praised her for her "finely tuned storytelling," and "depictions of everyday but decisive events, epiphanies of a kind, that illuminate the surrounding story and let existential questions appear in a flash of lightning."
Munro said she only started writing short stories as practice for novels, but ultimately wrote only one-full length novel. Her stories, so inventive and artful in their architecture, have been called "novels in miniature" (though she would prefer you leave off the miniature).
She is Canadian
Munro was born in Wingham, Ontario and now lives in Clinton, Ontario, where she says she is rarely recognized. She is the second Canadian to win the Nobel Prize for literature, and that's only if you count Saul Bellows, who left Canada for the United States when he was a child. She beat out American authors Joyce Carol Oates and Philip Roth, both considered favorites to win the award.
Munro's stories are often set in small Canadian towns, but strike universal chords. This July New York Times profile describes her as having a delightfully Canadian personality: "self-effacing and publicity-shy... funny, direct and unpretentious."
She is no stranger to recognition
Munro has won the Man Booker International prize, Canada's Governor General award, and a slew of other honors. Margaret Atwood praised her effusively in this essay for The Guardian and Jonathon Franzen is also a vocal fan. But in classic Canadian humility, Munro said she was "terribly surprised" by the Nobel. She even missed the phone call informing her of the win -- the Swedish Academy had to leave her a voicemail -- and only learned the news when she was awoken by a call from her daughter.
Where you can read her