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Author Alice Munro died on Monday night at 92. She had been suffering from dementia for at least a dozen years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad HipolitoChad Hipolito/The Canadian Press

Writer Alice Munro, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013 and the Man Booker International Prize in 2009, has died.

Ms. Munro could pack more insight, nuance and suspense into a few pages than most writers could cram into a novel. She was 92 and had been suffering from dementia for at least a dozen years. She died Monday night at her care home in Ontario. Her death was confirmed by her family. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Alice Munro, master of short stories, wove intense tales of human drama from small-town life

Ms. Munro was born Alice Laidlaw in Wingham, Ont., on July 10, 1931, the eldest child of Robert and Alice Laidlaw, a farming family in the cash-strapped Depression era. She began writing short stories as a teenager and attended the University of Western Ontario on scholarship. That’s where she met her first husband, bookseller Jim Munro, with whom she had four daughters, one of whom died shortly after birth.

After Alice and Jim Munro divorced in 1972, she married Gerald Fremlin, a cartographer and geographer whom she had also met during her university days. Both Mr. Fremlin and Mr. Munro predeceased her. Her daughters, Sheila, Jenny and Andrea and their families survive her.

As a young wife and mother, Ms. Munro stole moments, while the laundry swirled in the washing machine or the potatoes boiled on the stove, to write about life in rural Ontario, an area often dubbed “souwesto.” This landscape was the life blood of her imagination. It “intoxicated” her, she once said. “I am at home with the brick houses, the falling down barns, the trailer parks, burdensome old churches, Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire. I speak the language.”

She also spoke the intimate and often fractious language of mother-daughter relationships beginning with Dance of the Happy Shades, her first collection of short stories. It won the Governor General’s Literary Award for English language fiction, the first of three Governor General Awards and two Giller Prizes she would receive over the course of 14 bestselling collections.

“Alice had a genuine gift for intimacy and friendship, especially because of her enthralling conversational skills,” her friend and novelist Jane Urquhart said in an interview. “She was so intensely interested in her fellow human beings. Understanding them was her life’s work.”

Ms. Munro won the Nobel in 2013 as a “master of the contemporary short story,” the first Canadian to receive the prize for literature.

Professor David Staines, the former general editor of the New Canadian Library, knew her for more than 40 years as a friend and colleague. “She was one of the great writers of the short story form in the world today,” he said, adding he had invited her to be on the jury of the inaugural Giller Prize, an award she would subsequently win twice during her lengthy career.

“In her life, she evidenced the beauty of the word,” he said in an interview. Asked how she compared to other short story icons, such as Anton Chekhov and William Trevor, he said, “she will outlast her times, as they did theirs.”

Alice Munro is gone, but her lives of girls and women continue

Heather O’Neill, the Montreal novelist, poet and short-story writer said: “I have been reading Alice Munro my whole life. She has meant different things to me at different times. No one has written about the loneliness and nakedness and sheer delight of being a woman in the way Munro has. She taught me to accept my own story, and that no matter what, a woman’s desire to be free is irrepressible.”

As Ms. Munro aged, so did her perspective on life and love in stories that became increasingly sophisticated but always accessible to her legions of fans, who read her fiction for insights into their own lives and loves.

“Alice Munro is one of the four or five greatest fiction writers in English literature, ever,” said Adrienne Clarkson, Canada’s 26th Governor General. “The way she wrote, with deceptive clarity, was so extraordinary. It was a way she could catch your heart.”

There is a story of hers, Amundsen, which was originally published in The New Yorker in 2012. It’s about a troubled female-male relationship, which she always handled so well. There is one paragraph I kept reading and re-reading. The man takes her to a town and they are looking for parking outside a hardware store. Somehow in the description of the parking, you know their love affair is over. When you read every word of it, it does not say that. But you know.”

Alice Munro Country: Madeleine Thien's short story about a young Cambodian refugee's move to Goderich, Ont.

Measha Brueggergosman, operatic soprano who defended Alice Munro’s The Love of a Good Woman for CBC’s Canada Reads in 2004, admitted that she “adored her— so humble, so gracious.” Ms. Brueggergosman remembered going over to Ms. Munro at the televised Giller Prize ceremony in 2004, and sitting with her during the commercial break between dinner courses. “I handed her my lip gloss and said, ‘Here. Put this on, because you’re about to win.’ And of course she did win, for Runaway, her second Giller Prize. It’s heartbreaking to think she’ll never write another story, but we cling to and are forever inspired and challenged by the ones she allowed us to devour.”

Her long-time Canadian publisher Douglas Gibson, who met Ms. Munro in London, Ontario “way back” in 1974, said: “She had published three books at that point and I could see that they were so good that her career was just going like a rocket, but everyone was telling her to stop writing short stories and to write novels. So I said, ‘Alice, if everyone is telling you to stop writing short stories, they’re all wrong. You’re a great short story writer. I’m a publisher. And if you’re to spend the rest of your career writing short stories, I’d be delighted to publish them. And I’ll never ever ask you for a novel.’”

Since then, they published 12 collections of short stories together, according to Mr. Gibson. “And with the Nobel Prize for Literature going to Alice in 2013, I guess you could say that it worked out not too badly.”

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