Alice Munro

Podcast

Nobel Prize Conversations

“It’s the insight, the work, the way you give yourself to the story that matters”

Listen to a heartwarming conversation with Canadian ’master of short stories’ and literature laureate Alice Munro.

This conversation between the Nobel Prize’s Adam Smith and Munro took place soon after she was awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature. In the episode, she reflects on how she creates short stories, what these stories have meant to her and her readers and why she started writing. Munro also tells Smith what she hopes to achieve with her writing: conveying stories that resonate, as well as surprise, her readers.

The host of this podcast is nobelprize.org’s Adam Smith, joined by Clare Brilliant. This podcast was first released in 2013 as part of the series ‘Nobel Prize Talks’ but was republished in a new format on 26 October, 2023.

Below you find a transcript of the podcast interview. The transcript was created using speech recognition software. While it has been reviewed by human transcribers, it may contain errors. 

Alice Munro
Alice Munro, Nobel Prize laureate in literature 2013. Photo: Jenny Munro
© The Nobel Foundation

Clare Brilliant: Welcome to Nobel Prize Conversations and this encore presentation of our December 2013 talk with literature laureate Alice Munro. I’m Claire Brilliant and I’m here with our host Adam Smith. Hi Adam.  

Adam Smith: Hi. 

Brilliant: We’re actually about to revisit six podcasts – one from each prize category – and we’re kicking off with Literature, which is the oldest podcast of the bunch at just over 10 years old.  Do you even remember when you recorded this, Adam? 

Smith: Oh, very much so because it was quite a coup getting this interview with Alice Munro quite soon after she’d been awarded the prize. She didn’t speak often. So it was just a joy to be able to record it. 

Brilliant: I think that really comes across in re-listening to the episode. In getting ready for this season we’ve been re-listening to quite a few of the upcoming episodes and we’ve seen how some conversations like this one have just aged very well. It feels so timeless. Why do you think this conversation was so good?  

Smith: Partly because I think it was a conversation. You know, these Nobel Prize conversations sometimes they’re more conversational than other times when they’re a bit more interview-y. This one did feel like we’d somehow achieved that nirvana of proper conversation. Also because she’s dealing really with the subject of writing the short story.  

Brilliant: I liked how she said that she saw the prize as a vindication, something that could make people like her who take short stories feel comforted.  I really liked the way she described that.

Smith: I think one of the things about this conversation that I like is that she didn’t talk often about her writing her process. It seems to me that to a certain extent she’s also discovering things about herself in it. Maybe that’s saying too much, but she seems excited about talking about it and some of the things she says seem to excite her. That’s nice.

Brilliant: There were so many parts of this conversation when she described her process in such appealing ways. Another element that I remembered was how when she was younger when she was writing, she was more melancholy than when she was older. The way she described that was really interesting, I thought.  

Smith: Yes, it’s hopeful that one gets happier as one gets older. That’s true.  

Brilliant: So, I think it’s time to get started now.  

Smith: Absolutely. Yes, let’s go back to those days and weeks just after Alice Munro had been awarded a Nobel Prize in 2013 and listen to this encore presentation of Nobel Prize Conversation. 

Alice Munro: Hello. 

Smith: It must have been a quite bewildering nu a few weeks since the prize was awarded.

Munro: Bewildering, but very, very pleasant. Very nice.

Smith: That’s nice to hear because you are notoriously quite a reserved person who doesn’t expose yourself to the media very much.

Munro: Well, probably not, but I’m really not quite a dragon. I’m quite and can be quite happy,

Smith: That’s nice. So have you actually enjoyed then the attention that the prize has brought?

Munro: I have enjoyed the whole thing. It’s wonderful in it’s just not necessarily this fact of me getting it as much as the whole thing. There is such a feeling, everybody who’s come to see me about it and it’s feeling of the importance of well, of the arts and that, that people are so interested and they’re so delightful to me. There’s a feeling that just that you’ve done the right thing.

Smith: It must be very nice to have that kind of app probation once in your life for me.

Munro: That is it. And because, you go for a long time with writing, just wondering what you’re doing and how it’s working and things like that. And you love finding out that it’s worked well.

Smith: And you were at pains to say on the day of the announcement that you saw this as a prize not only for yourself, but also for the short story.

Munro: Oh, very much so. All that I’ve written, and when I began to write short stories, there was not a very good feeling about it. It was something that you were supposed to sort of cut your teeth on until you got big and brave enough to write a novel. And so I knew I wasn’t probably going to write a novel. I wanted very much to do short stories, and I went, oh, I’m doing them, but I see this as a vindication. I see it as something that, as that made people who like me want to take short stories seriously made them feel comforted and to feel that it’s something you could work at seriously your whole life.

Smith: I’m sure that this isn’t an easy question to answer, but why did you specifically want to write short stories rather than moving to longer forms?

Munro: Well, I think it was because when I started to write, I was a young housewife and mother and I could not look ahead to doing a great deal of, though I know lots of housewives do write novels, I couldn’t seem to, to fit it in that way. Then I started writing short stories, thinking I would just do this for a while. Then I became so interested in the style itself that it became not an idea that you were doing until you grew up and wrote novels, but something that I never tired of doing, and I wanted to do it so much. To have that recognised is just wonderful for me.

Smith: Do you think of it as a sort of, I mean, it’s a fragmentary form, I suppose, so is it a fragmentary form which is well suited to a society which is becoming more atomised, less unified?

Munro: Perhaps that’s true, though. I don’t think of it necessary as fragmentary. I would think of it just as maybe condensed in a way, but given enormous importance in not very large space. And that’s what I particularly like about it. I like the glow you can get from a story. It’s a kind of shock to your system, a good shock and sometimes a frightening shock, but something that you can do with a short story in a very strong way that isn’t as easy in a longer piece of writing or isn’t possible. I think they’re very different forms, but I like very much working in the story form, so I write rather long stories.

Smith: Is that partly what you’re setting out to do, you’re setting out to arrest people, to shock them?

Munro: Perhaps shock is the wrong word, but yes. To arrest them, to surprise them, to make them think of something a little different from that perhaps that they started out thinking of the way the story was going. Something like that. No, I’m not a tall didactic as a writer, so I don’t wanna sound that way. I just want them to be surprises.

Smith: Are they also surprises for you? Do you know what the surprises are going to…

Munro: Be? Oh, goodness, yes. That’s what I like. I like very much to find out that what I was writing about does not turn out to be the main thing I was writing about and have to start again because I find things in myself and in the work I’m doing first in myself and then in the work I’m doing. And this will surprise me sometimes.

Smith: So when you are writing, are you writing for yourself alone for yourself and the audience alone?

Munro: I think I’m writing for myself alone in the beginning. I am. And then, of course, I want other people to read it because I do like communication very much, but I want just something that I think is worth communicating and that’s where the work comes in.

Smith: So you are the stories you write, of course, they’re published individually, I mean, especially for instance in places like the New Yorker, but then they’re collected into these volumes. Do you have the collection in mind as you are writing and creating?

Munro: No, not at all. I never can see further than the novel I’m working on. And then, towards the end, I’ll have a batch of stories and I will see them that there’s something about them that they’re, there’s not a very large similarity about them, but there’s something in them that shows what I was thinking at the time and that I maybe really didn’t even know was there. But it is important then that they go together, but they don’t go together while I’m working on them.

Smith: Where do you write?

Munro: Oh, well, in the house somewhere. I was starting writing when I had small children, and so I wrote when they were having their naps, and I would be at probably just sitting in a chair, a comfortable chair and writing by hand. After a while, I started learning to type for quite a long time. I didn’t have a special place to work, and I wrote when I could. Then I got a place that became much more certain about doing it.

Smith: Did the place help in making you a more confident writer?

Munro: No, I vary between wild enthusiasm and great doubts. That never stops,

Smith: Really?

Munro: Then you try to overcome the doubts, mind you don’t just get satisfied with them.

Smith: You still, as a writer feel doubt about what, what is the doubt?

Munro: Heavens yes.

Smith: What’s the doubt about?

Munro: Doubt is about whether I can translate this story that I see in my head with all the changes and the things that are half hidden, and can I get this through to the person who is reading the story? And I can’t explain any further than. It doesn’t mean that I make the story more or less elaborate. I just try to make it, well, I make it clearer to myself. I more and more see what I want to say, and then I work at saying it.

Smith: So are you surrounded by sort of by sheaves of notes of stories that have begun and not been finished? Or do you tend to finish it?

Munro: No, no. I usually, if I, if I see that the story isn’t going well, I usually just throw it out and I might come back to it much later having seen some value in it. But if I worked at a story, say for a week, and the story isn’t kind of doing its job for me, I get rid of it, forget about it, find another, that’s why stories are a lot more or less intense maybe than novels. Do you think so?

Smith: Yes. That, yes. That again, that makes perfect sense. You don’t have the sort of burden of a long-term relationship.

Munro: That sounds like marriage. But anyway, what I mean is, it’s not that I’m not working hard enough, but it’s that there’s something that in me is resisting the story because maybe I, at heart, don’t like it. I don’t like it for some, maybe for a certain glibness about it. This can be a problem with stories. And maybe because it doesn’t have the mystery I want or just the sense of involvement I want. Like if you start a story, which I don’t anymore, just because, you know, you say, well, I think that would make a good story, it generally doesn’t work, and I just stop it because it has to have that feeling. That excites me a lot. I have to be excited by

Smith: It’s very nice. I mean, again, it sounds like a very intense relationship you have with this.

Munro: It is very intense.

Smith: I hadn’t sort of thought I might ask this question, but given that you mentioned that you give it a week to sort of prove itself. How long does it take to write a story? Can you answer that?

Munro: Oh, it can be any length of tall. I think the shortest might be a month or six, you know. But often I will go back to a story and I will think I have finished the story. This isn’t when I’ve given up a story, but when I have finished a story and just put it away, I maybe even sent it to a publisher. And then I think, oh, I know what should be done with that to make it better. And I will have thought that it was as good as it could be, but I will haul it out and I will haul it back from the publisher, and I will fool around with it some more. And sometimes the people who are printing the story don’t think this is particularly necessary, but I’ve gotten them mostly so they’ll do it anyway. I sound like a tired.

Smith: So as the story moves from being, if you like, your possession to being other people’s possession, do you start to think of particular readers?

AMunro: No, no, I never think of readers as a particular kind of readers. I guess what I think is, if people like my stories and not everybody does if people like my stories and, and I’ve done the best I could with it, they’re going to like this one. Because I find too, maybe in the stories that I, other people’s stories I don’t like other people’s stories all the same. But in general, if I like what they’re doing, I’m going to like pretty well the way they’ve done it.

Smith: That I suppose begs the question of whether you feel your voice has been pretty much the same throughout your writing career?

Munro: I think so, yes. I think it’s been the same, but I’ve been in the way that I’ve been the same person. But, as a person, you do change. I think that’s what’s happened maybe with my stories, oddly enough. I think that in the beginning I was much more melancholy…

Smith: Mm-Hmm.

Munro: …than later because, and I think maybe a lot of us are like that.

Smith: Is that a reflection of you as a person? Were you more melancholy then, or is it just the way you wrote?

Munro: No, I think it was a characteristic of youth.

Smith: Yes.

Munro: Not necessarily anything I knew I was doing, but just that you’re apt to see things that way. Then later on when you’ve seen a few things that may actually make you very melancholy, you could kind of cheer up a bit.

Smith: True.

Munro: Sorry about this.

Smith: It’s not nonsense at all I think, but do you think writing gets easier as you get older?

Munro: I think a certain kind of facility gets easier. I’m not sure that that you know and facility is not enough. So I’m not sure that writing gets any easier at all. The only thing that gets easier is the fact that you’ve done this before. You’ve felt that something wasn’t working. You’ve been in despair about something much earlier in your life, and you’ve done it all your life. The despair has in general, changed to something that you could be more or less satisfied with. So I think as you’re older, you get to know that will probably happen and you don’t feel in such utter despair. But I’m not promising anything. Despair is still around.

Smith: But I suppose then that’s just, as in writing as in life, that what you just

Munro: Said? Yeah. Very much. Yes.

Smith: In fact, have you found that life is easier as you get older or maybe even happier as you get older?

Munro: I think it’s happier, but I think partly that’s been because I’ve been lucky.

Smith: Mm-Hmm.

Munro: I don’t know if there’s any general rules about this. There are certain things that can happen to people that make it very difficult to maintain any kind of happiness.

Smith: Sure. But I suppose quite a lot of older people say things say that one worries less about life as you get

Munro: Older. That’s what I think one worries less. But I think a lot depends on, I haven’t had a very unhappy life. I haven’t had big terrible things happen to me. This is partly even because of the chances of living in a country that’s been fairly comfortable. So that the outside things are not as ap to interfere with and hurt you but other things can come, but you’ve just didn’t expect.

Smith: In your stories you write quite a lot about very disagreeable things happening to people. You explore that territory.

Munro: Disagreeable, yes. By saying that terrible things haven’t happened. I mean, that I haven’t been in major wars, the kind of things from outside that come at us and that I have lived in a fairly comfortable country my whole life. That’s what I meant. But the things that can come from inside from a person’s fear of themselves or of their lack of what should I say, lack of confidence that you can have lack of confidence, even though you may live in a very nice, confident country. You can have all kinds of personal problems at that. You’re going to get in the way of, and these are one of the interesting things to write, I think not, I mean, not to write stories that are depressing. I don’t feel I do that. But stories that get into the unexpected, the lonely, the personal under what’s under the surface, and this I think can be not so much by what cabins to you in your life, is just what kind of person you are. When I was a little girl, I read the story of Hans Christian Anderson, do you know that story where the princess turns into a…

Smith: Mermaid? The little mermaid.

Munro: The mermaid? Yes, yes, yes. It was so sad I couldn’t bear it. I walked around and around in the garden and made up a happier story that had a happy ending on the princess and I forget just how it is. But anyway, she got the man, the Prince. It took me quite a while to realise that I had just done this in my own story. It wasn’t therefore changed in the world. I think you come to something like that you can’t, there are things you can’t change or do anything about, and that’s when the writing gets quite important to you and intense in a way that has not to do so much with reception or other people, but just what you get, what you find in yourself.

Smith: It seems like it’s quite a brave thing to go into yourself and find that side of life.

Munro: Yes. I know I’m not saying this very well, but I think you know what I mean.

Smith: It’s very clear. What do you mean? On this sort of idea of the bravery of it, I mean, these are, as a word I used earlier, disagreeable things to tackle, but it’s disagreeable for most people to think about such things. In a way, one tries to escape thinking about such things. So it’s interesting to me that you constantly revisit it. Do you do it because you have a responsibility to expose this?

Munro: Oh no, I never feel responsibility. I mean, not in that way. I feel responsibilities in my life, but not in my writing. I feel that this is what interests me. This is me, this is what I want to say I’ve felt, or something like this. It’s as if you only have, as you go through life, the only thing you can be sure of, or at least partially sure of is yourself and what you have felt and what you have done, and what you would do differently now and et cetera. But I don’t like a tall fiction that is written to make people change or become better people. I just like it to be, I would like the fiction to make a people start and say, oh, yes, that’s true, or that’s just what I thought.

Smith: Just the last question about these, the less pleasant sides of life that one writes about, you don’t pass judgment. Are you tempted to sometimes on your characters?

Munro: No. Heavens no.

Smith: Perhaps we could talk a little bit about your early life. Were you always a storyteller as a child?

Munro: Oh, yes, but I only told the stories to myself just walking around and around. I had a fairly long walk to school, which was a time for stories. A lot of them were about myself and my interesting future when I grew up

Smith: And you never shared them with anybody?

Munro: Oh, goodness, no.

Smith: Did they keep you happy?

Munro: Yes. Yes. They were extremely comforting.

Smith: So they were happy stories in general.

Munro: Oh, yes. Yes. There were stories of considerable success. Maybe in the movie star line.

Smith: What were your literary influences as a child?

Munro: Oh, well, I suppose the we have a series of stories in Canada that are called the Anna Green Gables Stories. These are about a little orphan girl growing up. Another stories would be the Hans Christian Anderson stories. Just about anything I could get my hands of real on really what became an important story. I read a child’s history of England, which was as it says, a history of England written for children by, I think it was Dickens. I loved those stories, and I reread them and sometimes reframed them with myself as a hero rather than the person in the story.

Smith: They’re quite gruesome, those histories.

Munro: Very gruesome. That didn’t bother me at all.

Smith: Maybe even that’s part of the appeal to children.

Munro: I think so. And there were of course, dreadful things happening in them. People often got their heads chopped. And this was for some misdemeanor or other, but if I really liked my hero in the story, I didn’t get her head chopped off. I made this, I changed the story so that that wouldn’t happen.

Smith: Somehow these happy stories in your head changed into more realistic stories that started to be written down. You said that happened when you had children?

Munro: Oh, I think it really happened before I had children. I was working at stories when I was in high school, and I did a shortened version of Pier gimp when I was at university. This was for a school production, a university production. I was doing a lot of things like that were sort of official stories that were real stories, not stories that I had made up, but I sometimes changed them. I shortened them so that we could do them in a play or something like that.

Smith: I suppose it’s when you started writing about life around you.

Munro: Yes, that would’ve happened when I was about, well, I got married when I was around 20-21. Then life around me became inescapable.

Smith: That’s a very good phrase.

Smith: People frequently compare you to Chekhov. That is partly, of course, because you share a love of this short story. But it’s partly, because you are both in a way, sort of pickers up of Unconsidered trifolds. I wonder, do you spend a lot of your time observing small events and thinking how they might expand into stories?

Munro: I don’t spend my time doing that with any conscious design, but I just do it naturally all the time. I mean what I see around me.

Smith: Would you say you were more observant than other people of these things?

Munro: Oh, yes. I think I got to be, but one of the reasons was falling in love with Chekhov, which I did probably when I was 16-17 years old. Not consciously copying, but thinking of what you could do with life and what you could do with story life. I think Chekhov was a revelation to me.

Smith: What would you say was the magic of Chekhov for you?

Munro: The extreme importance he would give to ordinary life, the dignity he gave to such people, people who generally didn’t get into stories. I think the kindness, there’s a wonderful mercy in Chekhov as if everybody is worthwhile.

Smith: Would you say that it is important to recognise people’s efforts?

Munro: Oh, yes. Yes.

Smith: Pathetically miserable.

Munro: Yes, yes. People’s own interpretation of what they’re doing compared to what other people may think or just the constant changes and just the interest of how people get through.

Smith: In a way, throughout all these decades of writing, you’ve been documenting the world around you.

Munro: I suppose you could say that, yes.

Smith: Sometimes people speak about a sort of photographic element in your work. Do you like the world you see around you more or less than you used to?

Munro: I really can’t answer to that because there are so many ways in which the world has changed. If you are my age, and I see things around me that are just so much more tolerant, give the individual so much ease compared to what I grew up in. So I’m naturally happy with that, but that isn’t really what I’m talking about when I write stories. I’m still writing stories, which are about problems that people have to solve in some way, or that they try to leave a alone or something. That really doesn’t change much, although the exact happenings might change if you live together with your lover unmarried. Obviously that’s something that has changed from being an absolutely amazingly horrible thing to being very commonplace. Things like that have changed, but I don’t think the major problems that people have in their getting along in life, getting along with other people or with their own emotions those haven’t changed. They’re just in different wrappings now, sort of.

Smith: Now you are very much viewed as a Canadian writer yes. But what does the description Canadian writer mean to you?

Munro: It means writing by anything. Who lives in everybody who lives in Canada? That’s all. I think when people use it they may use it for all kinds of things. Maybe for the fact that maybe my focus is on Canadians more definitely than that. It started out definitely because when I was young, I never knew anybody who wasn’t a Canadian. My life was not structured in that way, that I saw many people who were very different from the people I knew around me. So I started writing people who knew around me, and maybe I still feel that those are the people I know, and I know more deeply.

Smith: Have you ever wanted to be anything other than a Canadian writer?

Munro: No, I haven’t been because I could see more material there than I could ever live to write about. One doesn’t, I didn’t think of any other of going of a need to go anywhere else or try to take on other things that I should learn about. Perhaps. I do this in my real life. In my real life, I don’t stick to Canadian people or Canadian friends or Canadian life in any particular way. But when I write about it, that’s what I can write about and know that I’m not being shallow, and it’s important not to be shallow.

Smith: Do you think the setting matters? Do you think that actually the fundamental aspects of getting through life that you talk about would be the same if you were writing about a French group of people?

Munro: I think there’d be a great deal that was similar. I think a lot of superficial things would seem the same, and even some moral things or manners might seem different, but there would be a basic sameness. For instance, when I started reading Russian when I was fairly, not the Russian language, but Russian stories when I was very young. I found there a great sympathy with the Canadian stories that I was reading, although the incidents might not be very different.

Smith: What about the language you use?

Munro: Language is a tool, and it was what I started with. I still work with, but not all the time. I do write with now with a feeling for different classes of people, which does give what does give you changes in language, which are important.

Smith: There’s a sort of sparseness or a sort of…

Munro: Oh, yes. I’d say the sparseness was not particularly conscious. I don’t sit down and say, I will write a very sparse novel. I write, but just the way I see as most effective.

Smith: I suppose as a non-Canadian, I might say that it was a rather Canadian way of being. It’s a indeed to the point, straightforward.

Munro: Mm-Hmm.

Smith: Do you like that idea that that’s how Canadians speak?

Munro: No, not necessarily. It’s not a matter of liking, it’s a matter of being able to get out as much feeling and understanding as seriousness as I can. I suppose that I would do that in a language that seems most workable in that way.

Smith: I wanted to ask a little bit more about how you write.

Munro: Okay.

Smith: How do you inhabit a story? How do you populate it?

Munro: That’s an interesting question, but I don’t know the answer. I just start thinking about the people in it and I think I get to see them and hear them and want to know more about them. There will be a connection here sometimes by the story in my mind and the people that I have observed in my life. But I tend to put those things together in a way that I’m not writing about anybody in real life, and I’m inventing a kind of person that I will write about, but this person is always based on certain realities that have intrigued me.

Smith: Then as you structure the story. Is there a sequence to it? Does it flow as it would in the story as you build it? Or do you see the end?

Munro: That’s a very good question, because it starts in a way that almost any old way at all that I can get into it, and I get into it. Then I often do make changes in the way the story happens in the language. And not just in the language, but in what happens in the story and how the reader comes across what happens.

Smith: It must be, in some ways, difficult to limit the story,

Munro: Sometimes it is, sometimes not. But yes, I’ve tended to write sometimes quite long stories that we’re almost, I didn’t have a name for really. They just demanded, I didn’t think I will write a long story. I just found that what I was writing about demanded these characters and this time, and it just became a long story.

Smith: Many of your characters and the people at the center of your stories are women.

Munro: Mm-Hmm.

Smith: Maybe an obvious question, but why is that?

Munro: I suppose it’s because I am a woman and I know things about women’s lives, and maybe I’m more interested because of what I know and what I see has happened, what I see, what women do in certain situations. I know that males write about women sometimes very convincingly, but not always. There are great classics where I think the female characters are not very believable. So you could say, I’m writing against that.

Smith: Is it a conscious effort to portray women, or is it just a natural?

Munro: Oh, goodness, no. Goodness. No, because that’s the world I live in and have for my life. So it isn’t it sometimes I write about a male character, though whom I know very well, and I don’t feel at all that there’s no essential difference in writing about a male character. It might just be that in certain areas, I’m less well versed.

Smith: I suppose that raises the question of is it more fun to write about a character you know or a character who you feel you don’t know so well?

Munro: That is impossible to answer because it’s more fun with any story that is really going well. What I’m trying to say is it doesn’t matter the gender. If it’s just something that I feel I really know the character and who the paces I put the character through are very interesting.

Smith: Do you consider yourself to be a female writer or just a writer?

Munro: A writer. Because I think these things we’ve been talking about the differences in what you write about don’t matter a great deal. It’s the insight, the work, the way you give yourself to the story that matters.

Smith: Can you expand on that a bit more?

Munro: When I say give yourself to the story, that means that you don’t just do what is easy or what might have first occurred to you. You let the characters develop and you see that this person is acting in a certain way. Now that sounds a bit silly, because of course, everything that’s going on is going on in my head, but when it’s really working, it’s working in that way that you have to be to make the story any good. You have to be very truthful about your characters. You have to let them do what they really would do, rather than something that the reader might want them to do sometimes, if that makes any sense.

Smith: Yes, it does. It absolutely does. But that indicates that you are really creating a world in which they are free agents operating, and you are observing them.

Munro: Pretty much, yes. I don’t want to say things like that because it sounds a bit white but I’m a straightforward Canadian woman but, but yeah, sort of like that.

Smith: The future, you mentioned in the call on the day of the announcement that the Nobel Prize might induce you to start writing again.

Munro: Did I say that?

Smith: You did.

Munro: I was crazy. Of course it might, you never know, but I began to feel that I’d done my best work. I felt that the energy wasn’t in me anymore. As long as that is true, I will not try. But if it came back of course I would try, but I’m just not sure if that ever happening.

Smith: Without the end point of putting them down on paper. Are you still creating the stories in your head?

Munro: Not recently, because I haven’t had time, but that’s a very good question, Because if I’m not collecting them in my head, then it would be the first time since I was five years old. I expect that maybe I will start, I’m not right now because life is very intense and busy around me. But maybe that’s going to change. I don’t know.

Smith: Those who want you to start writing again, of whom there are many, should absolutely leave you alone?

Munro: Oh, yes, they should.

Smith: Okay. Well, that’s a good signature. That’s a good sign for me to stop. It’s been an enormous pleasure speaking to you, and I thank you very much indeed.

Munro: Glad. Okay, thank you very much. Bye-Bye.

Smith: Bye-Bye.

This podcast was presented by Nobel Prize Conversations. If you’d like to know more about Alice Munro, you can go to nobelprize.org. where you’ll find a wealth of information about the prizes and the people behind the discoveries. 

Nobel Prize Conversations is a podcast series with Adam Smith, a co-production of FILT and Nobel Prize Outreach. The producer for Nobel Prize Talks was Magnus Gylje. The editorial team for this encore production includes Andrew Hart, Olivia Lundqvist and me, Clare Brilliant. Music by Epidemic Sound. You can find previous seasons and conversations on ACAST or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thanks for listening. 

Nobel Prize Conversations is produced in cooperation with Fundación Ramón Areces.

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