Alice Munro wins 2009 Man Booker International Prize

by Suzan Abrams

Famed Canadian short story writer, Alice Munro has won the bi-annual and presently, 2009 Man Booker International Prize; celebrated accolades that were previously handed to Ismail Kadare in 2005 and Chinua Achebe in 2007.The prize is awarded once every two years to a living author who may have contributed to a vastly recognised body of work for fiction on the world stage.

The panel of judges who included Jane Smiley, Amit Chaudhuri and Andrey Kurkov described Munro who has said she is “amazed and delighted” as having brought wisdom, depth and precision to every short story as most novelists would bring to a lifetime of novels.

Munro’s latest collection of short stories, Too Much Happiness, will be published in October 2009. Meanwhile, she will receive a prize of £60,000 and a trophy at an awards ceremony to be held on June 25, at Trinity College, Dublin.


Supper in the Stars: Feeling illicit, we grab a small space up a faraway place for a croon in the moon. The galazy is jazzy and cabarets up a parade of Hello Dolly stars. Catch that twinkle for a skirt swish and some can-can, even the universe unleashed, is Parisian, yes, no? And so…and so…wait a minute, ladies and gentlemen, forgive our impudence but space is bliss in our love above that whizzes up the planetory aisle ..and so we scream an aria and embrace a tragic opera on Broadwayyyyy…
Wowed by our smiles the starshine takes a bow and haloes up a sparkle…how about a campari tipple for some romantic dribble…Hey, diddle, diddle, did you see the dish with the spoon even as I jiggled and hummed and you drummed up a tune except that I fell about in a heartfelt swoon? We dance all night by the light of the Milky Way even as you promise to stay on another day…we rest our toes lazily on life’s shouldered majesty…the throes of a heartbeat awakened in nothing less of a passionate audacity.
– suzan abrams


Early Memories

Picture Book Influences

My earliest memory was of a  toddler smug in contentment and drinking her Ribena with a purple tongue – or rather being desperately cajoled to gulp the lot down for a Smarties reward. All the while, she eyed a jovial picture book.
I was expected to guard the book but sadly, knew nothing of its mysterious contents.  That probably replaced my version of a homespun raggedy Teddy Bear losing one troubling eye and a majestic bow, somewhere under my untidy cot. I also remember the luxury of being lullabied in a rocking chair in a high-rise apartment, somewhere in Singapore.  At the time, they were called flats, a word which signalled an essential national uniformity for an easy definition.  Lost in a cooing rhyme, I was astonished at being drooled over by a couple of elderly aunts fast missing a few teeth here and there, and aptly hissing saliva with their spitty kisses and crusty lips, all over my nice new bib.Naturally, I was then forced to plan a blueprint involving  a handy disposable wardrobe backed by free transportation. This  would mean a stealthy crawl under the foreboding dinner table, with which to inspect graveyard possibilities for a decent bib-burial.

That turned out to be a bummer I can tell you. Especially when my mother caught me biting someone’s knee for what I had considered as having a bit of  time out and also to sharpen my armoury.

I suspect I harboured at the time, a notion of satisfactory baby-management over my affairs and peace for all the world.

My First Pencil
I was presented with crayons and a cheerful  green pencil at 4. It featured a picture of lambs dancing about on a meadow. I was fascinated by the dusty pink blob of a rubber at the end of the lead.

My mother taught me carefully how to use the pencil with a genius disposition and without making black sticky marks on the jotting paper.

My three year old sister held on to an appealing blue one matching swans in a lake. Each of us soon envied the other and ended up in tears. I believe a fiery toddler’s boxing championship match and nasty hair tugs were involved.

Later, my sister would stick her pinky finger deep into the tiny sharpener for an ambitious and foolish inspection of how a nifty mirrored sharpener conducted its operations.

This would be followed by a  piercing howl of dismay.

Rushed to the clinic in dramatic fashion that was so Daddy, and all for a suspicious looking cut (I had suffered worse with a bee sting), my sister arrived home way past her bedtime at 8.30pm

She often carolled up an exaggerated reputation for crankiness.

Now, looking triumphant at her victory, her finger thickly plastered and used solely  for exhibition purposes and with her pencil permanently confiscated for safety precautions; I still remember how she championed the moment by sticking her tongue out at me as far as it would go.

Besides, I never came across those pictured swans again.

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