A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors


Alice Munro, Nobel Prize Winner

There is justice in the world! It has just been announced that one of our greatest living writers, Alice Munro, has won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Several Commonweal contributors, including myself, have written on Munro in the recent past:

Dominic Preziosi on Dear Life

Anthony Domestico on "Haven"

Richard Alleva on a film adapation of "The Bear Came Over the Mountain"

And Jonathan Franzen wrote a wonderful celebration of her work a few years ago in the NYT.


About the Author

Anthony Domestico is an assistant professor of literature at Purchase College, SUNY. His book on poetry and theology in the modernist period is forthcoming from Johns Hopkins University Press.



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I am going to hit the library.

How common is it for a writer who works primarily in short stories to win the Nobel Prize for Literature?

See for yourself:

She's definitely deserving.

As a summer reading project back in the 1980s, I once read a selection from all the women Nobel prize winners for literature through Nelly Sachs (1966). I especially enjoyed Grazia Deladda and, of course, the wonderful Sigrid Undset. All worthwhile.

I haven't updated that project since the last woman after Sachs won (Nadine Gordimer, 1991). Looks like it's time to revive that project.


Happy reading. I especially recommend Szymborska:



Now, I'm going to go out  and wait for the aerial beaver and timbits drop that has been hastily put together for this afternoon.


O Canada!


Alice Munro is wonderful. 

So is Margaret Atwood.

(So is Louise Penny, not a short story writer, but a great mystery writer!)

(So are the Property Brothers.)

Congratulations to Ms. Munro.  Finally the wait is over.  Finally a standout among many worthy Canadian authors is recognized.  Her stories about southern Ontario families, especially about the choices women face, are gems.  I also enjoyed the generations of Scots-Irish as they settled Upper Canada, in The View from Castle Rock.

It's interesting to look over the list of recipients, just to see names you've never heard of (let alone read), as well as writers that you just don't like or who have left no lasting impression on your mind.

chris, thanks for the link to the list of past recipients and genre.  The answer to my question seems to be, "very, very few".

Congrats to Alice Munro. And many of her stories feature characters living in small, rural Ontario towns!! Who would have thought - there is hope for me yet!!

Abe, we don't joke about Tim Horton's in Michigan. I can see one from my house!

Finally the wait is over.  Finally a standout among many worthy Canadian authors is recognized.

Yo, just a reminder, but a gentleman by the name of Saul Bellow won this award some years back, so it's not as though Munro is the first Canadian to pull this off.

Double joy: Munro is one of the few truly consistent and nourishing writers alive. And we were spared the travesty of Haruki Murakami (Japanese literature was declared officially dead by the literary critics more than 20 years ago, and rightly).

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