Alice Munro (b. 1931) is a Canadian short story writer whose work has been described as having revolutionized the architecture of short stories, especially in its tendency to move forward and backward in time. Her stories have been said to "embed more than announce, reveal more than parade."
Munro began writing as a teenager, publishing her first story, "The Dimensions of a Shadow," in 1950 while studying English and journalism at the University of Western Ontario under a two-year scholarship. During this period she worked as a waitress, a tobacco picker, and a library clerk.
Munro's highly acclaimed first collection of stories, Dance of the Happy Shades (1968), won the Governor General's Award, then Canada's highest literary prize. That success was followed by Lives of Girls and Women (1971), a collection of interlinked stories. In 1978, another collection of interlinked stories Who Do You Think You Are? was published (titled The Beggar Maid: Stories of Flo and Rose in the United States). This book earned Munro a second Governor General's Literary Award. From 1979 to 1982, she toured Australia, China, and Scandinavia for public appearances and readings. In 1980 Munro held the position of writer in residence at both the University of British Columbia and the University of Queensland.
Munro became the first Canadian and the 13th woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013, cited as a "master of the contemporary short story."
Her style places the fantastic next to the ordinary, with each undercutting the other in ways that simply and effortlessly evoke life. Many critics have asserted that Munro's stories often have the emotional and literary depth of novels. Some have asked whether Munro actually writes short stories or novels. Alex Keegan, writing in Eclectica, gave a simple answer: "Who cares? In most Munro stories there is as much as in many novels."