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Munro 'delighted, dazed' with Nobel win

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VICTORIA -- Alice Munro proudly watched daughter Jenny accept the Nobel Prize on her behalf in Stockholm on Tuesday, and reflected on a writing life that began when she growing up in rural Ontario with "unreasonable" expectations.

"I expected to be famous some day," the short-story legend told The Canadian Press during an interview at the home of her daughter Sheila.

"This is because I lived in a very small town and there was nobody who liked the same things I did, like writing, and so I just thought naturally, 'Someday I'm going to write books,' and it happened."

Sitting on a green couch with a cat perched nearby, Munro spoke just hours after watching a live stream of the Nobel proceedings in Stockholm. Jenny Munro made the trip to the Swedish capital because her mother was not well enough to do so.

"I'm delighted... It's something you would never dream of happening and so I'm still kind of dazed, but really, it's very pleasant."

Wearing a sleeveless, midnight-blue embroidered gown with her blond hair in an updo, Jenny Munro was greeted with thunderous applause and a standing ovation during the event at the packed Stockholm Concert Hall.

She bowed as she received the Nobel Medal, a diploma and a document confirming the $1.2 million award from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.

Munro, 82, didn't expect the ceremony to be so extravagant.

"I think any Canadian gets rather surprised at these splendours," she said with a chuckle

Asked if she had any regrets about not going to Stockholm, she said with a laugh: "Oh no, no, no no."

"I think it does sound like fun but it also sounds like a great deal of stamina (was) required," she added. "I'm quite glad to have my daughter do this for me, and I think she looked wonderful."

In a laudatory speech, Munro was celebrated as a "stunningly precise" writer who "is often able to say more in 30 pages than an ordinary novelist is capable of in 300."

"Munro writes about what are usually called ordinary people, but her intelligence, compassion and astonishing power of perception enable her to give their lives a remarkable dignity -- indeed, redemption -- since she shows how much of the extraordinary can fit into that jam-packed emptiness called The Ordinary," said Peter Englund, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy.

"The trivial and trite are intertwined with the amazing and unfathomable, but never at the cost of contradiction. If you have never before fantasized about the strangers you see on a bus, you begin doing so after having read Alice Munro."

Asked what she was going to do to mark the Nobel festivities on Tuesday, the media-shy author said, "Once we get through all these things, I'll be able to think about celebration."

But the Nobel, she agreed, seemed a fitting finale to her illustrious career.

"I don't think I need to wait around for anything else. It's quite amazing," she said.

"I just mainly feel that I'm tired and I want to live a different sort of life, a much more relaxed sort of life."

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 11, 2013 C2

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