• Sweden's news in English

Alice Munro wins 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature

10 Oct 2013, 13:00

Published: 10 Oct 2013 13:00 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Munro, 82, was announced as the winner by Swedish Academy Permanent Secretary Peter Englund at 1pm at the academy in Stockholm's Gamla Stan.

"The motivation was very short - we gave her the Nobel prize for Literature simply because she is the master of the contemporary short story. That's it. If you've read Alice Munro, I think you'll understand," Englund told The Local shortly after.

Before he announced Munro's name, Englund let the room full of journalists and members of the public know that the winner this year "would be a woman", prompting the room to erupt with cheers.

Later on Thursday, Munro was finally reached for comment by Canadian Radio station CBS.

"It's surprising and fantastic. My daughter woke me up and said, 'Mamma, you've won!'," she told the station.

"And I wondered what it is I won... I had no idea. I didn't even know that I was on the list of candidates until just the other day."

Munro's writing career began when she was a teenager growing up in Ontario. She began studying journalism and English at the University of Western Ontario, but left university when she got married in 1951, eventually moving with her husband to British Columbia where they opened a book store.

She published her first book-length work in 1968, the story collection Dance of the Happy Shades, which attracted a lot of attention in Canada. Her most recent collection of short stories, Dear Life, was published in 2012.

In fact, Englund points to Dear Life as one of his favourites when it comes to Munro's extensive bibliography, together with The Moons of Jupiter, although he suggests that any of Munro's works would be a good starting point for a new reader.

"One of the amazing things about her is that she has no weak works... she has cultivated the short story to perfection. The Moons of Jupiter was the first I read by her... and in that book you have her very special narrative mode. She tells stories like nobody else," he told The Local.

The head of the Swedish Academy explained further that while he hadn't managed to reach the 82-year-old author directly, she could expect a pleasant message on her answering machine when she wakes.

"I basically said 'Congratulations, you've won the Nobel Prize in Literature'," he told reporters with a laugh.

So what exactly is it about Munro's writing style that earned her the prize?

"She is a minimalist," Englund told the Local.

"She has a sparse style, constrained, an economy of expression which is amazing. You'll always have a hard time if you go through the texts of Alice Munro to find a redundant word or phrase, everything sits where it should be.

"If you're a writer you can't help being impressed."

Munro becomes the 13th woman to claim the literature Nobel. The last woman to win was Romanian-born author Herta Müller in 2009.

She is also the second Canadian-born author to win the Nobel Prize in Literature after Saul Bellow, who won in 1976.

The announcement comes following wild speculation over who would claim this year's prize, worth 8 million kronor ($1.24 million).

While there were no clear favourites amid early speculation about the 2013 literature prize, by Thursday morning Japanese author Haruki Murakami and Svetlana Alexievich of Belarus emerged as favourites, according to oddsmakers Ladbrokes and Unibet.

On Wednesday night, Munro was number four on a list of Nobel literature candidates ranked by Unibet according to the number of bets being placed.

Earlier in the week, Ladbrokes Murakami was the favourite with 3-to-1 odds, followed by US novelist Joyce Carol Oates at 6-to-1, Hungary's Peter Nadas at 7-to-1 and Norwegian author and dramatist Jon Fosse at 9-to-1.

In addition to Alexievich, experts in Stockholm's literary circles also suggested Algerian novelist Assia Djebar.

Thursday's literature Nobel is the fourth award this week as part of the annual announcements.

The Nobel season kicked off on Monday with the announcement of the medicine prize, which went to two Americans and one German for their work in solving the mystery of how a cell organizes its transport system.

The peace prize winner is scheduled to be announced on Friday, and the economics prize on Monday, October 14th.

Story continues below…

SEE ALSO: Stockholmers speak about their favourite Nobel Prize

In line with tradition, the Swedish Academy gave no indication of its choice for the literature prize ahead of Thursday's announcement.

It never reveals the names it is considering, and its deliberations are sealed for 50 years.

Last year, the honour went to Chinese novelist Mo Yan.

Follow our live blog of the Nobel week here.

DON'T MISS: Secrets behind the 1961 Nobel literature prize candidates

TT/The Local/dl

Follow The Local on Twitter

Related links:

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Sweden to keep record-low interest rate in 2017
Sweden's landmark negative interest rate will continue towards 2018. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

The Swedish central bank said that it will take longer than expected to reach its inflation target.

Presented by Stockholm University
9 unexpected study programmes at Stockholm University
Photo: Niklas Björling

Did you know Stockholm University offers 75 master's programmes taught in English? And some of them are programmes you won't find anywhere else...

Creepy clown messes with the wrong dog walker in Sweden
Not the clown in the story. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

A dog helped its owner fight off a creepy clown chasing the pair in southern Sweden.

A million Swedes are digitally excluded: report
How should Sweden bridge the digital divide? Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Tech-savvy Swedes? Perhaps not. A new study suggests that at least a million of its residents feel the pain of the digital divide.

Malmö's 19th Swedish title sets Champions hopes alight
Malmö fans celebrating after the match. Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

Malmö FF have their eyes set on the Champions League after winning the Swedish league for the 19th time.

What's on in Sweden
Five great autumn events in Sweden this week
Jazz in northern Sweden. Photo: Umeå Jazz Festival

Food, music, movies and more food. What better way of helping yourself forget that the days are getting shorter and colder?

Here's how slow Sweden's high-speed trains are getting
A Swedish SJX2000 high speed train. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

The high-speed rail journey between the three biggest Swedish cities is about to get longer.

The Local List
12 Swedish words with just awesome literal translations
A filthy-minded lobster, i.e. a snuskhummer. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB scanpix/TT

One of our favourite things about the Swedish language is its wonderful compound words, which range from being utterly bizarre to making perfect sense.

US election
Donald Trump won't get new Ericsson head's vote
Trump pictured at a campaign rally in Florida. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

The new Swedish-American boss of telecoms giant Ericsson has revealed he will not vote for the Republican nominee in the forthcoming US presidential election.

Swedes named fourth most gender equal in the world
A file photo of men and women pushing prams in Stockholm. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Sweden has closed 81 percent of its overall gender gap according to the World Economic Forum.

Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
People-watching: October 26th
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast
Is Game of Thrones coming to Sweden?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available