Alice Munro, one of Canada's most celebrated writers, has pipped Mahasweta Devi and V S Naipaul to win the third Man Booker International Prize. Devi and Naipaul were among 13 other writers who were shortlisted for the award this year.
The prize worth 60,000 pound (USD 95,000) is awarded once every two years to recognise a living author for his/her contribution to literature and to highlight the author's creativity and development on a global scale. It was first awarded to Ismail Kadare in 2005.
The 77-year-old author, popular for her short stories, said: "I am totally amazed and delighted." The judging panel which included Jane Smiley, writer; Amit Chaudhuri, writer, academic and musician and Andrey Kurkov, essay and film script writer, praised Munro saying she "brings as much depth, wisdom and precision to every story as most novelists bring to a lifetime of novels".
"To read Alice Munro is to learn something every time that you never thought of before," the panel said. Peter Clarke, Chief Executive, Man Group plc said: "Since her first collection of stories was published in 1968, Alice Munro has been highly acclaimed as the contemporary master of the short fiction genre".
Alice Munro was born in the town of Wingham, Ontario into a family of fox and poultry farmers. Her father was Robert Eric Laidlaw and her mother, a school teacher, was Anne Clarke Laidlaw (née Chamney). She began writing as a teenager and published her first story, "The Dimensions of a Shadow," while a student at the University of Western Ontario in 1950. During this period she worked as a waitress, tobacco picker and library clerk. In 1951, she left the university, in which she had been majoring in English since 1949, to marry James Munro and move to Vancouver, British Columbia. Her daughters Sheila, Catherine, and Jenny were born in 1953, 1955, and 1957 respectively; Catherine died 15 hours after birth. In 1963, the Munros moved to Victoria where they opened Munro's Books. In 1966, their daughter Andrea was born.
Alice Munro's first collection of stories, Dance of the Happy Shades (1968), was highly acclaimed and won that year’s Governor General's Award, Canada’s highest literary prize. This success was followed by Lives of Girls and Women (1971), a collection of interlinked stories that was published as a novel.
Alice and James Munro were divorced in 1972. She returned to Ontario to become Writer-in-Residence at the University of Western Ontario. In 1976 she married Gerald Fremlin, a geographer. The couple moved to a farm outside Clinton, Ontario. They have since moved from the farm to a house in the town of Clinton, Ontario.
In 1978, Munro's collection of interlinked stories, Who Do You Think You Are?, was published (titled The Beggar Maid: Stories of Flo and Rosein the United States). This book earned Munro the Governor General’s Literary Award for a second time. From 1979 to 1982, she touredAustralia, China and Scandinavia. In 1980 Munro held the position of Writer-in-Residence at both the University of British Columbia and theUniversity of Queensland. Through the 1980s and 1990s, Munro published a short-story collection about once every four years to increasing acclaim, winning both national and international awards.
In 2002, her daughter Sheila Munro published a childhood memoir, Lives of Mothers and Daughters: Growing Up With Alice Munro.
Alice Munro's stories frequently appear in publications such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Grand Street, Mademoiselle, and The Paris Review. In interviews to promote her 2006 collection The View from Castle Rock, Munro suggested that she would, perhaps, not publish any further collections. She has since recanted and published further work.
Her story "The Bear Came Over the Mountain" has been adapted for the screen and directed by Sarah Polley as the film Away From Her,starring Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent. It successfully debuted at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival. Polley's adaptation was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, but lost to No Country for Old Men.