Alice Munro, Nobel Prize-winning short story author, dies at 92 The Canadian writer was known for her masterfully crafted short stories. Throughout her long career, she earned a number of prestigious awards including the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013.

Alice Munro, Nobel Prize-winning short story author, dies at 92

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The Canadian writer Alice Munro was a master of the short story. With more than a dozen collections to her name, Munro made a career out of writing quiet, subdued stories that could devastate readers. She won multiple awards, including the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013. Munro died last night in her home in Port Hope, Ontario. She was 92 years old. NPR's Andrew Limbong has this appreciation.

ANDREW LIMBONG, BYLINE: There's the story about a woman in an unhappy marriage, another about a mom whose daughter doesn't want to come home, the one with the woman reminiscing on childhood memories. In lesser writers' hands, these are limp, everyday scenarios. But in Munro's, they're beautiful, shocking and sad. In 1996, she told WHYY's Fresh Air that the key to a good short story was tension - something she had trouble finding when she tried to write novels.

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ALICE MUNRO: Things got flabby, and I didn't feel the right tension. I feel very tense about short stories, just as if you're on a tightrope. And I didn't get that feeling when I tried to write novels.

LIMBONG: Munro grew up in Wingham, Ontario, a small town near Lake Huron, and she was interested in writing stories at a young age. After she won the Nobel Prize, she did this interview where she talked about being read Hans Christian Anderson's "The Little Mermaid" and thinking, this needs a better ending.

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MUNRO: It's dreadfully sad. The little mermaid falls in love with this prince, but she cannot marry him because, of course, she's a mermaid. She had to get limbs that ordinary people have and walk in them. But every step she took - agonizing pain. This is what she was willing to go through to get the prince, so I thought she deserved more than death on the water.

LIMBONG: Her little mermaid got a happily ever after, but the characters Munro wrote when she got older led quieter, more complex lives. Often, they lived in the same small town she called home. Munro told NPR in 1983 that this gave her more freedom to write.

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MUNRO: Look at all the people who have written novels about New York. Well, that's OK because everybody can interpret things differently. But there's only one person who's written about Wingham, and that's me. And that means I get to interpret, and nobody else has done it.

LIMBONG: Her last short story collection, "Dear Life," ends with four interlocking semiautobiographical stories. And in true Munro fashion, it doesn't end on a flowery metaphor or a grand statement on life, but instead a note on something we do every day - quote, "we say of some things that they can't be forgiven or that we will never forgive ourselves, but we do. We do it all the time."

Andrew Limbong, NPR News.

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