Alice Munro’s ex-husband says the short story legend is “quite enjoying” the hoopla surrounding her Nobel Prize for literature.
Jim Munro says the entire family is thrilled about the prestigious honour, which daughter Jenny will receive in Stockholm today on her mother’s behalf.
The 82-year-old short story legend is too frail to travel to the ceremony and is in Victoria at the home of her daughter Sheila.
The king of Sweden will present the C$1.2 million prize to Jenny Munro at a lavish ceremony.
Jim Munro — who owns a Victoria bookstore that bears his name — says his daughter was initially reluctant about the trip but has been having a great time since arriving in the Swedish capital last week.
The ceremony will be webcast and Jim Munro plans to watch the proceedings.
“It will be terrific,” he said in an interview. “I saw last year’s, there’s a video of last year’s Nobel Prize award and it’s fantastic. Great theatre, the king and queen and all the beautiful princesses. It’s all white tie and tails, you know, and ball gowns. Everything is very formal, they make a big thing out of this.”
“It’s just like something out of ‘Anna Karenina.’ So it will be great fun. My daughter Jenny — well she wasn’t all that keen on going at first — but now that she’s over there, she’s just having a ball.”
He said he wasn’t sure whether his former wife would be watching but added that she is “thrilled” about the honour.
“I think she’s quite enjoying it,” he said with a hearty laugh. “We all think that it’s great for her, it’s great for Canada, it’s great for women writers and it’s great for the short story. So you know it’s all a plus.”
Bookstores in the Swedish capital have been displaying Munro’s collections prominently since she was announced as this year’s laureate on Oct. 10.
The Swedish Academy hailed her as the “master of the contemporary short story” for more than four decades of deeply layered tales set in small-town southwestern Ontario, where she grew up. Munro is the 110th Nobel laureate in literature and only the 13th woman to receive the distinction.
Port Hope’s Furby House Books, where Jenny Munro was a manager in the mid-2000s, says she dropped into the store a few days before leaving for Stockholm.
She was “a little anxious, a little nervous and apprehensive, but absolutely thrilled and so looking forward to it,” said owner Lou Pamenter.
“She was floating a little bit,” she added, noting Jenny had bought a new dress for the special day.
Peter Englund, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, has said that while there is usually some debate over the Nobel Prize literature winner, Munro has been an unusually popular choice.
She has also kept an extremely low profile, granting only a handful of interviews since she was announced as the winner.
Regarded as the world’s highest literary honour, the Nobel puts Munro in the company of great wordsmiths including George Bernard Shaw, Ernest Hemingway, Hermann Hesse, T.S. Eliot and Toni Morrison.
Canadian-born, American-raised writer Saul Bellow won in 1976.
Munro has previously won the Man Booker International Prize for her entire body of work, as well as two Scotiabank Giller Prizes (for 1998’s “The Love of a Good Woman” and 2004’s “Runaway”), three Governor General’s Literary Awards (for her 1968 debut “Dance of the Happy Shades,” 1978’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” and 1986’s “The Progress of Love”), the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the inaugural Marian Engel Award and the American National Book Critics Circle Award.
When asked if Munro had any regrets about not going to Stockholm, Jim Munro said his former wife had been feted in other locations and had “been there, done that.”
Born in 1931 in the southwestern Ontario farming community of Wingham, Munro later moved to Victoria with Jim Munro, with whom she had three children. The couple eventually divorced and Munro moved back to Ontario. She eventually remarried Gerald Fremlin, who died earlier this year.
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