The day Alice Munro became the first Canadian awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature will go down in history for the country – and for Victoria, where she left an indelible mark on the literary community.
Munro, named “the master of the contemporary short story” by the Swedish committee during an announcement from Stockholm at just after 4 a.m. Pacific Time, is only the 13th woman to receive the honour.
In Victoria, before the manager of Munro’s Books even arrived at work on Oct. 10, she was on the phone to publishers ordering more of the 82-year-old author’s work. The store, still owned by Munro’s former husband, Jim Munro, would later become abuzz with customers eager to share in the momentous news.
“When we got here this morning there were cameras and media camped outside,” said Jessica Walker, store manager. “It’s so exciting. The Nobel is the biggest, the most prestigious literary award in the world, in part because it is an international award and it’s given for a body of work. It’s a huge recognition for her and for Canada and for women writers.”
Munro, who was said to be in Victoria at the time of the announcement, was surprised and delighted by the prize, having previously considered it a “pipe dream.”
Though Munro did stop by the Government Street store last week, it’s unlikely she’ll be offering readings or signings, Walker said.
“She’s probably unreachable right now,” Walker said with a smile.
That hasn’t stopped the constant flow of visitors to the iconic book store, where stacks of Munro’s latest book, 2012’s Dear Life, greet them at the door.
Munro won the Man Booker International Prize in 2009, the Giller Prize twice and two Governor General’s Awards for fiction.