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SLU professor, biographer of Nobel Literature Prize pick, pleased with selection


For Alice Munro’s fans, news of the Nobel Prize in Literature was a long time coming.

“Finally,” said Robert W. Thacker, Ms. Munro’s biographer and a professor of Canadian studies at St. Lawrence University, Canton. “People knew that she was in the running.”

There was a fear that the prize committee would not come around until it was too late; the Nobel Prize must be awarded to a living recipient. Ms. Munro is 82.

Mr. Thacker read his first Alice Munro story in the 1970s, and has been caught up in her life and work ever since. In the 1990s, he decided to try to write her biography.

“She put me off for a while, but eventually decided that somebody was going to do it, so she cooperated with me in 2000,” he said. His book, “Alice Munro: Writing Her Lives: A Biography,” was published in 2005.

“She’s a lovely person,” he said, contrasting the reclusive author with writers who spend much of their time in self-promotion. “Munro has opted not to do that,” he said. “She’s become this world-class writer, this great writer, whatever phrase you want to use, by just sitting in a small town.”

Her stories’ timeless quality comes from their believable portrayal of life and emotion, according to Mr. Thacker.

“You get to the end of her story and you can kind of feel the penny drop,” he said. “It’s just a really fine rendering of being alive.”

For readers unfamiliar with Ms. Munro’s work, he recommends starting with “Carried Away,” a collection of stories spanning her entire career, or “The Progress of Love,” her anthology from 1986.

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