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Tag:  Nobel Prize for Literature

Tag: Nobel Prize for Literature

The Love of A Good Woman, stories by Alice Munro

The short story has few practitioners as skilled as Alice Munro, now 84, who as far as I’m concerned, is a writer who’s all but required reading in #ShortStoryMonth. Munro famously began writing stories as a young mother, finding the story took “less time.” Lucky for readers that the genre turned out to be one that suited her. Since her first collection appeared in 1968, she has produced fourteen in all—and garnered numerous awards and prizes, including Canada’s Governor’s General Award, PEN/Malamud Award, the Rea Award for the Short Story, O. Henry Award and many more.

Munro is known for stories set in her home landscape of western Ontario, Canada, and focus on the intricacies of relationships in ways that are never sentimental. Her stories are told in a voice that intimates the deepest thoughts and feelings of a character, but are never cloying or sentimental. Munro is the furthest thing from it: her narrators are sharp-witted, sardonic, even biting in their observations.  So where to begin when first entering Munro country?

My recommendation is to begin mid-career. It’s there you’ll find her classically novelistic stories—where the density of novel is packed into thirty or so pages. The stories of this period may not be as stylistically daring as those in recent collections like Runaway, but there is something classically satisfying about the stories written 1982 and 1998, and the collections are, in this reader’s view, vintage Munro. “The Moons of Jupiter,” “The Progress of Love,” “Friend of My Youth,” and “The Love of A Good Woman” are some of Munro’s classic stories. As impossible as it is to choose, I’d direct first-time Munro readers to the collected titled The Love of A Good Woman. There you will find such classic stories as “The Children Stay,” a chilling tale of adultery and its effects viewed from the perspective of years later. Or “Before the Change,” an epistolary account of the adult daughter of a widowed country doctor, who, moving back home learns the secret the housekeeper had been blackmailing him with for decades. The title story of the collection is a domestic murder mystery, with an ailing husband, a devoted nurse, curious boys, and clues set down in a collage of time and memory.

Munro revels in what she calls “knotty” situations, where she can hold a mirror up to the complexity of life and apply her astonishing eye to the details, gathering time and events in her own unique fashion. Munro has famously referred to her narrative structure as that of a house, in which the reader is free to wander through its rooms in any order she pleases. It’s a way she herself prefers to read stories, she’s said. Though in the end, read them in any order you prefer, just be sure to take your time and savor them.

—Lauren Alwan

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Svetlana Alexievich Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature

For only the 14th time in its 111 year history, the Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded to a woman, and for the first time, to a journalist working strictly in the nonfiction genre:  Svetlana Alexievich, from Belarus.  In her highly intimate and very human works, Ms. Alexievich collects hundreds of interviews chronicling the […]

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Canadian Author Alice Munro Wins Nobel Prize

From THP: Canadian author Alice Munro won the 2013 Nobel Prize In Literature on Thursday for “her finely tuned storytelling.” The prize, awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, is given to “the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction.” Munro, who is best known […]

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Chinese writer Mo Yan wins Nobel literature prize

Chinese writer Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize in literature on Thursday, a cause of pride for a government that had disowned the only previous Chinese winner of the award, an exiled critic.

National television broke into its newscast to announce the prize — exceptional for the tightly scripted broadcast that usually focuses on the doings of Chinese leaders.

The Swedish Academy, which selects the winners of the prestigious award, praised Mo’s “hallucinatory realism” saying it “merges folk tales, history and the contemporary.”

Peter Englund, the academy’s permanent secretary, said the academy had contacted Mo, 57,before the announcement.

“He said he was overjoyed and scared,” Englund said.

Among the works highlighted by the Nobel judges were “Red Sorghum, (1993), “The Garlic Ballads” (1995), “Big Breasts & Wide Hips” (2004).

“He’s written 11 novels and let’s say a hundred short stories,” Englund said. “If you want to start off to get a sense of how he is writing and also get a sense of the moral core in what he is writing I would recommend ‘The Garlic Ballads.'”

Chinese social media exploded with pride after the announcement, while Mo’s publisher called it a dream come true but said that Mo always played down the importance of prizes.

“For me personally it’s the realization of a dream I’ve had for years finally coming true, it’s suddenly a reality, but what I mainly want to say is congratulations to Mo Yan,” said Cao Yuanyong, deputy editor-in-chief of Shanghai Literature and Art Publishing House, which has published much of Mo’s work. Cao said he and a dozen colleagues were toasting Mo with red wine in a Shanghai restaurant Thursday night.

Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the state-run nationalistic Global Times tabloid, said on a Chinese version of Twitter that Mo’s winning is proof that the West has looked beyond Chinese dissidents.

“This prize may prove China, with its growing strength, does not have only dissidents who can be accepted by the West. China’s mainstream cannot be kept out for long,” Hu wrote on his microblog.

The reception of the award in China contrasted with the reactions when jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, which infuriated the Chinese leadership.

The communist leadership also disowned the Nobel when Gao Xingjian won the literature award in 2000 for his absurdist dramas and inventive fiction. Gao’s works are laced with criticisms of China’s communist government and have been banned in China.

Born Guan Moye in 1955 to a farming family in eastern Shandong province, Mo chose his penname while writing his first novel. Garrulous by nature, Mo has said the name, meaning “don’t speak,” was intended to remind him to hold his tongue lest he get himself into trouble and to mask his identity since he began writing while serving in the army.

His breakthrough came with novel ‘Red Sorghum’ published in 1987. Set in a small village, like much of his fiction, ‘Red Sorghum’ is an earthy tale of love and peasant struggles set against the backdrop of the anti-Japanese war. It was turned into a film that won the top prize at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1988, marked the directing debut of Zhang Yimou and boosted Mo’s popularity.

Mo writes of visceral pleasures and existential quandaries and tends to create vivid, mouthy characters. While his early work stuck to a straight-forward narrative structure enlivened by vivid descriptions and raunchy humor, Mo has become more experimental, toying with different narrators and embracing a free-wheeling style often described as ‘Chinese magical realism.’

“His writing appeals to all your senses,” Englund said.

He said Mo would come to Stockholm to accept the award at the annual Nobel Prize ceremony on Dec. 10.

Mo was a somewhat unexpected choice for the Nobel jury, which has been criticized for being too euro-centric. Still, his name was among those getting the lowest odds on betting sites before the announcements.

European authors had won four of the past five awards, with last year’s prize going to Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer. As with the other Nobel Prizes, the prize is worth 8 million kronor, or about $1.2 million.

The Nobel Prizes were established in the will of Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, and have been handed out since 1901.