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Canadian Alice Munro, Nobel Prize in Literature laureate in 2013 and undisputed master of the short story, has died at the age of 92, leaving behind an exceptional literary legacy.

The literary world is in mourning. Alice Munro, the Canadian writer crowned with the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013, has passed away at the age of 92. The first short story writer to receive this prestigious distinction, she skillfully and deeply examined the lives of people in the rural areas of Ontario, her native province, throughout her career.

Born on July 10, 1931, Alice Munro grew up in a rural environment, between a father who raised foxes and poultry, and a mother who was a schoolteacher taken prematurely by Parkinson’s disease. It was in this setting of rocks, lakes and forests, where snow was ever-present, that she found her inspiration. From her teenage years, she decided to become a writer and never wavered from this path.

First published in 1950 while she was still a student, Alice Munro quickly made a name for herself in the English-speaking literary world. Her first collection, Dance of the Happy Shades, published in 1968, won her the Canadian Governor General’s Award. From then on, she continued to publish, exploring themes of grief, disillusionment, jealousy and violence with remarkable acuity.

Despite her growing fame in Canada and English-speaking countries, Alice Munro took time to gain recognition abroad. It was not until the late 1980s that she was published in France, likely due to her choice of the short story genre, which was shunned in Europe but prized across the Atlantic. However, her finely honed prose and keen sense of observation quickly earned her international recognition.

Throughout her 14 collections, each consisting of stories ranging from 20 to 30 pages, Alice Munro condensed seemingly mundane lives into works of unsuspected richness. Her heroines, whether old or young, well-dressed or poorly attired, barricaded by snow, an abusive father, or a selfish husband, all sought to avoid the blows of fate and often found themselves at pivotal crossroads.

American novelist and critic Cynthia Ozick predicted that Alice Munro would outlive most of her contemporaries, calling her the “Chekhov” of our time. This comparison became even more meaningful when the Nobel committee awarded her the Literature Prize in 2013, praising her ability to bring “as much depth, wisdom and precision into each story as most novelists do in their entire works.”

Despite this recognition, Alice Munro always displayed great discretion, much like her characters. “I have no other talent, I am not an intellectual, and I am poor at being a housewife. So nothing disrupts what I do,” she said with humility and self-deprecation.

In 2013, after the publication of her collection Dear Life, she announced that it would be her last, feeling that after more than 60 years of writing, it was time for her to live more quietly. The Nobel Prize did not change this decision.

Today, the literary world mourns the loss of an exceptional writer whose work will forever be etched in memory. Alice Munro leaves behind an invaluable literary legacy, filled with poignant and universal stories that will continue to inspire and move readers worldwide. A body of work that, as the Nobel committee rightly noted, teaches us “something new” about the human condition each time.

With AFP

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