Tuesday, June 25, 2024

We mourn for Canada’s Chekhov, Alice Munro

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Alice Munro breathed her last on May 13 2024 She was then 92

Alice Munro breathed her last on May 13, 2024. She was then 92. In her long literary journey, she brought a revolution in the field of English Literature, especially in the trend, message, topic, and pattern of short stories and she won the Nobel Prize for short stories in 2013, which was the first achievement for any female writers from Canada.

She struggled throughout her life and writing journey, but she broke all the stones and created a smooth milestone for the writers. During a 2013 interview in Stockholm, Sweden, she boldly expressed her pride in being a woman and her steadfast belief in the immense potential of women. She emphasized that women possess capabilities that transcend traditional gender roles. From a young age, she challenged the narratives that confined women to domestic duties, shining a spotlight on the often-overlooked strengths and abilities of women. She also said that when she was a child, she read stories that portrayed women as old and who were always just doing home chores and raising children. She became rebellious and started bringing in a lot more qualities that women possess but are not shared, discussed, or appreciated in public.

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Alice Munro studied English and Journalism at the University of Western Ontario but didn’t finish. Despite ups and downs in her personal life, she played a pioneering role in literature, creating diverse protagonists with internal strength and power. Her characters were ordinary yet self-sufficient, hard-working, and natured individuals who highlighted injustices without becoming protestors.

Alice Munro, one of the most influential writers of our time, embarked on her literary journey in 1950 with the publication of her first story, “The Dimensions of Shadow,” while she was still in university. Despite facing numerous health challenges, including cancer and a coronary bypass surgery, she continued to produce exceptional works until her retirement in 2013. Throughout her lifetime, she created masterpieces such as “Dance of the Happy Shades” (1968), “Lives of Girls and Women” (1971), “Who Do You Think You Are?” (1978), “The Moons of Jupiter” (1982), and “Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage” (2001). Her impact extended beyond literature, as Canadian actress Sarah Polley’s film “Away From Her” was inspired by one of Munro’s works. Additionally, her short stories, including “Boys and Girls” (1968), “Beggar Maid” (1977), “Queenie” (1999), “Amundsen” (2012), “Voice” (2013), and “Family Furnishing” (2014), continue to captivate audiences with their compelling narratives and profound messages.

She was a three-time winner of the prestigious Governor General’s Award for fiction. She won in 1968 for “Dance of the Happy Shades,” in 1978 for “Who Do You Think You Are,” and in 1986 for “The Progress of Love.” She also won the Man Booker International Prize in 2009 and the Nobel Prize in October 2013 at the age of 82.

Shy and reserved by nature, Alice Munro spent most of her life in small towns, and few people knew much about her work. However, when she moved to Victoria, she focused more on social and public relations, and her work reached a wider audience. Although she had been writing since her teenage years, her first collection of short stories was not published until she was 37 years old. It wasn’t until she was in her seventies that people outside of Canada even knew about her. However, she soon became famous, respected, and popular, and received awards outside of Canada, in the United States, the United Kingdom, and beyond. Her works have been translated into 13 languages so far.

Tasmina Khan
BA(Hons), MA (English Literature); BA (Hons), MPEd (Behavior Analysis)

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