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Alice Munro: Poignant moments magnified

Alice Munro is the first Canadian to win the award.

L’Olivier/file

Alice Munro is the first Canadian to win the award.

The Nobel Prize in Literature, in the recent past, has gone to writers with a political bent. This year’s winner, Canada’s Alice Munro, sticks more to tumult of the heart. Munro’s brilliant short stories are intimate vignettes — about love affairs, or domestic strife, or the loss of a child — mainly set in the isolated Canadian landscape. Yet, Munro’s insightful prose and her artful storytelling consistently magnify the mundane, revealing the poignancy and momentousness of even familiar human interactions.

Munro, at 82, this summer announced she will retire, making her recently published 14th story collection her last. It’s a tremendous loss for contemporary English-language literature — American novelist Cynthia Ozick once described Munro as “our Chekhov.” And so yesterday’s honor should be seen for what it is: A standing ovation.

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