Long live the short story

Canadian author Alice Munro has won the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature, and for me it is a delight to see a short story writer acknowledged in this way. I am not so familiar with Munro’s work, but enough to know that the prize is well-deserved.

I have long been fascinated by short stories, and tend to prefer them over the longer-form narrative which dominates contemporary literature. Short story writers often have a strong sense of place, and time as moment rather than process. This is certainly the case for Munro, many of whose stories are set in her native Huron County, Ontario. As with Chekhov, with whom she is often compared, plot in Munro’s work is secondary to the epiphanic moment.

It is this use of literature for enlightenment and revelation – a means by which we can better understand what it is to be human – that draws me to the short story form. The short story is the literary analogue of folk storytelling, which has traditionally been more of a performance art form.

Congratulations to Nobel laureate Alice Munro.