One of our favorite authors here at Daedalus, Alice Munro won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature, and we couldn't be more pleased. She is, to our minds and many others, the contemporary master of the short story, with 14 original collections and a small mountain of accolades that began with her debut collection Dance of the Happy Shade, which swept up Canada's greatest literary honor, the Governor General's Award. It was followed by two more Governor General's Awards, two Giller Prizes, an O. Henry Prize, and the Man Booker International Prize—like the Nobel, a career award for an outstanding contribution to literature. "It has become practically de rigueur for reviewers to refer to Munro as 'our Chekhov'," noted the New York Times Book Review after the author's 13th collection. "[But] at this point in Munro's career, how much can it add? What is certain is this: She is our Munro. And how fortunate we are to call her that."
It's funny to think that Munro, when she began writing in 1968 while raising three daughters, initially wrote short stories as "practice" for a longer work, having no time to write a novel; perhaps that is why she seems to pack whole lives into her stories. In just a few pages, said NPR's Lynn Neary, Munro "can provide a fully realized story that provides really remarkable insight into human beings, their shortcomings, their complexities, their loves, their lives." She has made the lakes and small towns of Ontario her realm, but her stories could happen anywhere, to people we know or to us—deceptively straightforward and readable, they convey not just realism but a sense of what it is to be alive, often with a flash of insight that reveals life's most profound truths.