Nobel Prize Talks: Alice Munro
“Bewildering but very pleasant.” Meet Alice Munro in a talk about being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, happiness and melancholy, the intense relationship she has with her stories, and how writing and life is intertwined.
Telephone interview with Alice Munro following the announcement of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature, 10 October 2013. The interviewer is Nobelprize.org’s Adam Smith.
[Adam Smith] Hello, Adam Smith.
[Alice Munro] Hello Adam!
[AS] Hello, this is Alice Munro?
[AM] Yes, this is Alice Munro. I just wanted to thank you, very much. This is quite a wonderful thing for me. It’s a wonderful thing for the short story.
[AS] It is indeed, and may we congratulate you in turn. It’s a wonderful day.
[AM] Thank you very, very much.
[AS] How did you hear the news?
[AM] Um, let me see, I was wandering around this morning, early. How did I hear it first? [Said to her daughter, Jenny, in the room with her] … Oh, the press called me.
[AS] And what was your first reaction? Do you remember?
[AM] Unbelief. [Laughs] I really couldn’t believe it, I was so happy, and I haven’t gotten over the delight yet.
[AS] You’ve produced an enormous body of work over four decades …
[AM] Well I have, yes. But, you know, because I work generally in the short story form, this is a special thing I think to get this recognition.
[AS] Yes indeed, yes indeed. Have you been basically the same sort of writer from the beginning to the end? Have you changed, do you think?
[AM] Well you know as far as I can tell, I have not changed very much. But someone else could answer that question better I think.
[AS] And the award will bring a great new readership to your work …
[AM] Well I would hope so, and I hope this would happen not just for me but for the short story in general. Because it’s often sort of brushed off, you know, as something that people do before they write their first novel. And I would like it to come to the fore, without any strings attached, so that there doesn’t have to be a novel.
[AS] And for those who don’t know your work, would you recommend a starting point?
[AM] Oh goodness! I don’t know, I can’t … You always think that your latest work is your best, at least I do. So I would want them to start with the latest book.
[AS] So they should start with Dear Life should they?
[AM] Well, in a way, yes, but then I hope they would go back and read the others as well.
[AS] And of course everybody is talking about the fact that you announced earlier this year that you were going to stop writing, and saying “Maybe this will encourage her to start again”.
[AM] [Laughs] Well you know I’ve been doing it for so many years. I’ve been writing and publishing, I think, since I was about twenty – just now and then I would get something published you know – but that’s a long time to be working and I thought maybe it’s time to take it easy. But this may change my mind. [Laughter]
[AS] That’s an exciting statement! That’s going to have everybody buzzing.
[AS] How splendid! So, I know that you must be tired after speaking to so many people so we would like very much to talk to you perhaps on another occasion …
[AM] That would be great, actually, because I am a little bit tired and woozy now and God knows what I might say!
[AS] [Laughs] OK, well we’ll wait until this quiet down a bit, and then …
[AS] It has been a great pleasure to speak to you, thank you so very much indeed.
[AM] Thank you, goodbye.
[AS] Bye, bye.
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