From a finalist lineup that included the likes of E.L. Doctorow, V.S Naipaul, and Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Munro was "totally amazed and delighted" earlier today to receive the 2009 Man Booker International Prize, news the book-loving community and her readers have greeted with approval and delight. Her win feels especially notable for the fact that she's widely considered the greatest living writer of short fiction, a genre that often gets short shrift--even her two books described as novels, Lives of Girls and Women and Who Do You Think You Are?, are series of interwoven stories. But as the Booker judges noted, Munro "brings as much depth, wisdom and precision to every story as most novelists bring to a lifetime of novels."
Munro has already won multiples of Canada's most prestigious literary awards (three Governor General's Awards and two Giller Prizes), but this international recognition should finally break her out of popular obscurity, as The Guardian's Lisa Allardice enthused:
If you haven't read Munro in a while (or ever), start with her best. Or start anywhere. All of her stories are architecturally perfect little worlds to inhabit, "deep caves paved with kitchen linoleum." And at 77, Munro is paving still darker caves--her new collection of stories, Too Much Happiness, comes out in Canada this August, and it sounds gritty, complete with "child murders, strange sex, and a terrifying home invasion." (We'll take her word on the happiness part.) --Mari Malcolm