As I’m sure you know, Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for Literature this year on the basis of a lifetime of writing plain spoken, deeply felt and viscerally moving short stories about the intricacies, snares and joys of human relationships.
Advanced in years and too ill to travel, she couldn’t make it Stockholm to give the customary and expected acceptance speech, the “address” as it is called, so Nobel.org traveled to her in Canada instead and filmed a video, a revealing, unvarnished, introspective and honest interview with her about her life as a writer. It is most unlike the usual high sounding, pontifical, for-the-ages rhetoric usually served up almost compulsorily by Nobel Laureates, for it is so disarming and human, and ultimately humble and dear. I think of Faulkner‘s high sounding, inspirational exhortation to younger authors, his directive to lift up the hearts of our fellow men and women with literature, as a stark contrast to Munro’s easy-going, self-deprecating manner – as much as I revere Faulkner and his work — Faulkner and this fine lady are about as like as day and night– and yet I am surprised at how similar their messages are despite their many differences in style, locale and idiom.
Here is the link, for some reason I can’t embed the video, but if you are a serious writer intent on writing something true and lasting, I encourage you to watch it, listen carefully. It’s wandering, informal, off the cuff, not at all self-important, she is elderly now and in poor health, yet its loftiness and nobility of purpose come through loud and clear.
Her trademark is the common touch, empathy, hope against hope, and her name should become a by word for modesty and the necessity for a fundamental humility before the sometimes incomprehensible pageant of life — and any writer’s ability to render it– that (in my view anyway) all good writers must have–
- Alice Munro, dreamed big as young girl , delighted by Nobel win (cbc.ca)
- Alice Munro responds to Nobel prize by video interview (theguardian.com)
- Daughter collecting Alice Munro’s Nobel Prize today in Stockholm (timescolonist.com)
- Roots led to writing for Alice Munro (castanet.net)
- Alice Munro’s prose called ‘stunningly precise’ at Nobel ceremony in Stockholm (calgaryherald.com)
- Nobel laureate Alice Munro says rural Canadian upbringing inspired her to write (ctvnews.ca)
- Alice Munro’s daughter collects author’s Nobel Prize in Literature (ctvnews.ca)