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Nobel-winning author Alice Munro, ‘Canada’s Chekhov’, dies at 92

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Alice Munro, the Nobel Prize-winning author known as “Canada’s Chekhov” for her mastery of the short story, has died at 92, Canadian media reported Tuesday.

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Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013 and the International Booker Prize for her body of work in 2009, Munro had suffered from dementia in recent years. According to the Globe and Mail, she died late Monday at her care home in Ontario.

Munro set her taut, acutely observed stories in the rural Ontario countryside where she grew up, focusing a stark lens on the frailties of the human condition.

Despite her vast success and an impressive list of literary prizes, however, she long remained as unassuming and modest as the characters in her fiction.

“She is not a socialite. She is actually rarely seen in public, and does not go on book tours,” commented American literary critic David Homel after she rose to global fame.

That shy public profile contrasted with another Canadian contemporary literary giant, Margaret Atwood.

Born on July 10, 1931, in Wingham, Ontario, Munro grew up in the countryside. Her father Robert Eric Laidlaw raised foxes and poultry, while her mother was a small town schoolteacher.

At just 11 years old, she decided she wanted to be a writer, and never wavered in her career choice.

“I think maybe I was successful in doing this because I didn’t have any other talents,” she explained in an interview once.

“I’m not really an intellectual,” Munro said. “I was an okay housewife but I wasn’t that great. There was never anything else that I was really drawn to doing so nothing interfered in the way life interferes for so many people.”

“It always does seem like magic to me.”

Munro’s first story “The Dimensions of a Shadow” was published in 1950, while she was studying at the University of Western Ontario.

Munro was three times awarded the Governor General’s Award for fiction, first for “Dance of the Happy Shades” published in 1968. “Who Do You Think You Are” (1978) and “The Progress of Love” (1986) also won Canada’s highest literary honor.

Her short stories often appeared in the pages of prestigious magazines such as The New Yorker and The Atlantic, with her last collection “Dear Life” appearing in 2012.

Critics praised her for writing about women for women, but without demonizing men.

Her subjects and her writing style, such as a reliance on narration to describe the events in her books, earned her the moniker “our Chekhov,” in reference to the 19th century Russian playwright Anton Chekhov — a term affectionately coined by Russian-American short story writer Cynthia Ozick.

(AFP)

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