Alice Munro Wins Nobel Prize in Literature

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Canadian short story writer Alice Munro has won the Nobel Prize in literature.

She's arguably the most popular writer to win the award - worth $1.2 million and given for a body of work, not a specific title - since Toni Morrison in 1993.

Alice Ann Munro, 82, has been celebrated for accessible and moving stories.

She said earlier this year that she planned to retire after Dear Life, her 14th story collection. She has been hailed as the "master of the contemporary short story."

Frequently published in The New Yorker, Munro's work has been included in Best American Short Stories and the O. Henry Awards.

In 2009, Munro won the Man Booker International Prize for her lifetime body of work. She's also a three-time winner of Canada's Governor General's Award for fiction.

Munro has been praised as one of the best contemporary writers of fiction, or, as Cynthia Ozick once put it, "our Chekhov," referring to the Russian master of short stories.

Her selection was only a bit of an upset, at least to British bookmakers who had tagged Japan's Haruki Murakami as the front-runner, just ahead of Munro.

She began writing as a teenager and published her first story, "The Dimensions of a Shadow," in 1950 while still a student at the University of Western Ontario.

She also worked as a waitress, a tobacco picker and a library clerk.

In Oslo, Peter Englund, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, told reporters that Munro is capable of a "fantastic portrayal of human beings."

Whether she is really finished writing, he said, is up to her.

"She has done a marvelous job," Englund said. "What she has done is quite enough to win the Nobel Prize. If she wants to stop writing, that's her decision."

The award has been handed out since 1901. The Nobel's official website lists the most popular literature laureates in order of popularity:

John Steinbeck; Rabindranath Tagore; Ernest Hemingway; William Faulkner; Gabriel Garcia Marquez; Winston Churchill; Pablo Neruda; William Golding; Albert Camus.

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