Canadian authors remember the late Alice Munro and her literary legacy

Alice Munro, a Canadian author who was revered worldwide as master of the short story and who won the Nobel Prize for Literature, died on May 13, 2024 at the age of 92. The prolific author leaves behind a strong literary legacy — along with many Canadian authors who were inspired by her and her work.

Below are some comments collected by CBC Books from just a few Canadian authors who shared their thoughts on the passing of Alice Munro.

Heather O’Neill

A woman with short hair and blue eyes looks into the camera.
Heather O’Neill is a novelist and short story writer from Montreal. She won the 2024 edition of Canada Reads. (Julie Artacho)

Heather O’Neill is novelist, short story writer and essayist based in Montreal. Her debut novel Lullabies for Little Criminals won Canada Reads 2007 and was a Giller Prize finalist. She was the first back-to-back finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize for The Girl Who Was Saturday Night in 2014 and her short story collection Daydreams of Angels in 2015. 

Her novel The Lonely Hearts Hotel won the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and was longlisted for Canada Reads 2021. When We Lost Our Heads is her most recent novel. O’Neill championed The Future on Canada Reads 2024, becoming the first person to win as both a writer and a contender. 

“Alice Munro has affected me profoundly at so many different stages in life. Her characters come across to everyone around them as women who will follow the rules. And then they don’t.

“They run away from those who try to fit them into the mould of what a woman should be. Munro always sees women as independent of their roles as mothers or daughters or wives.

Alice Munro has affected me profoundly at so many different stages in life.– Heather O’Neill

“They are wild creatures who pack their suitcases, button up their cardigans and sneak out of houses in the middle of the night to discover the world. And, oh they make a wonderful mess of it. But when Alice Munro shows us a woman making a decision to undo her life, these are truly incandescent and some of the most beautifully staged scenes in the history of literature.”

Kevin Chong

A bearded Asian man with round dark-rimmed glasses wearing a plaid shirt
Kevin Chong is a Vancouver author. (Iris Chia)

Kevin Chong is a Vancouver-based writer and associate professor at the University of British Columbia Okanagan. His books include the nonfiction book Northern Dancer and fiction titles like The Plague and Beauty Plus Pity. His latest book, The Double Life of Benson Yu, was a finalist for the 2023 Scotiabank Giller Prize. Chong, along with Suzette Mayr and Ashley Audrain made up the jury for the 2024 CBC Short Story Prize.

“I don’t write short stories — not that many, at least — because of Alice Munro. Reading her work, I know that I am not good enough, not patient enough, not aware enough. I appreciate the greater margin of error in novel-writing.

I have no doubt her books will still be read and cherished for generations to come.– Kevin Chong

“But what I’ve taken from her fiction is how ‘every short story is at least two stories,’ the way events in a character’s present-day situation can bring to surface a story from the past. I’m thinking of the satisfying ironies of The Bear Came Over the Mountain, where the main character, Grant, a philander in his past, sees his wife, who is suffering from dementia, fall in love with another man in a care home.

“I have no doubt her books will still be read and cherished for generations to come.”

Carleigh Baker

A woman with black hair smiles into the camera.
Carleigh Baker is a B.C.-based author. (Callan Field)

Carleigh Baker is a writer and teacher of Cree-Métis and Icelandic heritage. Her debut short story collection, Bad Endings won the City of Vancouver Book Award and was a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the Emerging Indigenous Voices Award. She previously taught creative writing at Simon Fraser University. Her latest book is the story collection Last Woman, published in 2024.

“I’ll never understand why the literati believes that novels are the pinnacle of sophisticated expression, but in spite of this, Alice Munro kept writing short stories.

I will miss her, but how lucky we are to have her voice!– Carleigh Baker

“And if that wasn’t enough to make her a hero in my mind, they are gorgeous stories, understated at the surface but churning with emotion in their depths. She saw people and places so clearly. She gave us a body of work that entertains, teaches, and endures.

“My favourite collection is Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage. I read those stories over and over to help me remember how to be a person in the world. I will miss her, but how lucky we are to have her voice!”

Andrew Pyper

Andrew Pyper is a Toronto author.
Andrew Pyper is a Toronto author. (Heidi Pyper)

Andrew Pyper is the Toronto author of novels including Lost Girls, which won the Arthur Ellis Award for best first novel in 2000, The Demonologist, The Only Child and The Homecoming. His forthcoming novel William, written under the pseudonym of Mason Coile will be released in fall 2024.

“I was born and raised in Alice Munro Country. That’s not how the people in my hometown of Stratford, Ont., ever referred to it, but when I first encountered Munro’s stories as a teenager, I saw instantly that she was inhabiting the same place where I grew up. By ‘place’ I don’t mean the literal landscape of bean fields and unsidewalked towns and red brick Victorians and roads that petered out after a few dusty miles, but a location defined by things unseen as much as the observable.

When I first encountered Munro’s stories as a teenager, I saw instantly that she was inhabiting the same place where I grew up.– Andrew Pyper

“Houses dark but for a single light from a second-floor bedroom, unattended children whispering together in weed-ridden yards, single men sitting on rooming house porches looking out at passersby with longing, or nostalgia, or menace. I recognized my town (and the ones on the cross-hatched roads around it) in reading Alice Munro more profoundly than in any photograph or history or map.

“As a young person entertaining his first daydreams of being a writer, I was astonished not only by how she conjured this magic, but the way she did it while standing on the same unremarkable ground I stood on.”  

Dionne Irving

Dionne Irving
Dionne Irving is an author and academic originally from Toronto. (Myriam Nicodemus)

Dionne Irving is a writer and creative writing teacher originally from Toronto and now based in the United States. She released her first novel, Quint, in 2021 and her work has been featured in journals and magazines like LitHub, Missouri Review and New Delta Review. The Islands is her debut short story collection and was shortlisted for the 2023 Scotiabank Giller Prize

“As a Canadian writer myself, I’ve always found Alice Munro’s voice and style to be inflected with something distinctly but, sometimes, ineffably Canadian, which has been deeply instructive to me. Munro isn’t interested in imitating an American or British sensibility. Instead, her prose is a mixture of generosity and kindness, but it’s paired with a brutality and unadorned honesty that is distinctly Canadian and something I strive for in my own work.

I admire how Munro inhabits a world of tragedy without feeling the need to be didactic.– Dionne Irving

“I’ve always loved the story Royal Beatings, a story centred on a vicious beating, which somehow manages to untether the reader, who never quite knows whom to root for. Perhaps I’m drawn to stories of girls growing up, a subject I’ve tried to address, but mostly I admire how Munro inhabits a world of tragedy without feeling the need to be didactic.

“She asks us to consider how every human contains constellations of being and can’t be reduced to ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ ‘hero’ or ‘villain.’ The casual brutality of the characters in Royal Beatings, living at the height of the Great Depression, provides sly commentary on everything from the nature of gossip to class distinction, somehow managing to also function as a guidebook to the mysteries of domestic life in other people’s homes.

“Only Munro and her deft voice could succeed here in allowing us a peek into lives that are simultaneously our own and not our own, stories animated by familiarity and discomfort. What more could I want from any story? ” 

Amy Stuart

A black and white image of a blonde haired woman.
Amy Stuart is a Toronto-based novelist, teacher and short story writer. (Paige Lindsay)

Amy Stuart is a bestselling novelist and short story writer, currently living in Toronto. She is the author of the Still Mine thriller series, which features the novels Still MineStill Water and the latest entry, Still Here. Her most recent novel is the thriller A Death at the Party, published in 2023.

“In the early stages of my writing life, I had three young children at home and read Alice Munro nearly every day.

I love that she never deviated from short fiction. She was the truest master of the craft.– Amy Stuart

“I drew much strength from her stories, and mostly from her adamance that women need not trade in their creative selves when they become mothers. I love that she never deviated from short fiction. She was the truest master of the craft.”

Deepa Rajagopalan

A woman with black hair looks at the camera.
Deepa Rajagopalan is an Ontario author. (Ema Suvajac)

Ontario-based author Deepa Rajagopalan was the 2021 RBC/PEN Canada New Voices Award winner. Born to Indian parents in Saudi Arabia, she has lived across India, the US, and Canada. Her previous writing has appeared in publications such as the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology, the New Quarterly, Room and Arc. Her debut story collection, Peacocks of Instagram, was published in 2024.

“I just heard about Alice Munro. It’s the end of an era. I was recently a guest in the podcast, Bookspo by Kerry Clare, which is based on books that inspired your writing. I had picked an Alice Munro story, Corrie, as my inspiration for a story Rahel in my collection. I had mentioned that studying Alice Munro’s work carefully is equivalent to getting an MFA degree. She’s inspired me to think deeply about perspective, time and subversion in short stories.

It’s the end of an era.– Deepa Rajagopalan

“It is hard to pick a favourite, but I think the story Dimensions from her collection Too Much Happiness is probably one of my favourites. The emotional devastation is so profound in this story because of the plainness of the telling. I remember listening to an interview where Munro talked about removing all the flowery language during the editing process. I try to think about this when I’m editing. How to keep the prose as plain and precise as possible so the reader does all the feeling.”

Chanel M. Sutherland

A woman looks at the camera.
Chanel M. Sutherland is a writer from Montreal. (Submitted by Chanel M. Sutherland)

Chanel M. Sutherland is a writer and product marketing director living in Montreal. She was born in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and moved to Canada when she was 10 years old. She holds a BA in English literature from Concordia University. She is currently working on a collection of interconnected short stories that explore the complex relationships and experiences of life in a small Caribbean village. 

Sutherland is a two-time CBC Literary Prize winner. She first won the 2021 CBC Nonfiction Prize for her essay, Umbrella. Then in 2022, she won the CBC Short Story Prize for her story Beneath the Softness of Snow

“Throughout all the ages of my life, I’ve found myself drawn to Alice Munro’s storytelling. Like many writers of short stories, I’ve felt her influence deeply. The Moons of Jupiter is a story I return to time and again, highlighting Munro’s lasting impact on my literary journey.

Her legacy remains an enduring testament to the power of storytelling.– Chanel M. Sutherland

“What initially captivated me was Munro’s knack for illuminating the ordinary, infusing the mundane with layers of meaning and significance. Her narratives overflowed with empathy and nuance, and as I immersed myself in her work throughout my life, I found solace and inspiration in her words.

“While Munro may have departed, her legacy remains an enduring testament to the power of storytelling. Her passing serves as a poignant reminder that though individuals may leave this world, their words and art endure, shaping the very essence of human experience and that which connects us.”

Susan Doherty

Susan Doherty
Susan Doherty is a writer based in Montreal. (Kathy Slamen Photography)

Montreal-based author Susan Doherty has worked at Maclean’s Magazine, the International Herald Tribune and ran her own advertising production company for 20 years. She published her debut novel, A Secret Music, in 2015. Research for her novel led her to the Douglas Hospital where she volunteered with people suffering from extreme psychosis. Doherty’s book The Ghost Garden is the culmination of her work in the excavation of mental illness; her most recent novel, Monday Rent Boy, was published in 2024.

“After feasting on Austen and Dickens, Alice Munro was the first author who taught me to capture the subtleties of the human condition with simplicity and precision. Her insights remain etched in my memory.

Her insights remain etched in my memory.– Susan Doherty

“As she wrote in The Beggar Maid: ‘People are always giving themselves away in small, unconscious ways.'”

Lisa Alward

A black and white portrait of a woman with bangs smiling to the camera
Lisa Alward is a writer based in Fredericton. (Maria Cardoso Grant)

Lisa Alward’s short fiction has appeared in The Journey Prize Stories 2017, Best Canadian Stories 2017 and Best Canadian Stories 2016. She is the winner of the New Quarterly’s 2016 Peter Hinchcliffe Short Fiction Award as well as the 2015 Fiddlehead Short Fiction Prize. She lives in Fredericton. She was on the 2018 CBC Short Story Prize longlist for Orlando 1974 which is included in Cocktail

“Alice Munro was the first short story writer I read. In 1979, my high school English teacher — rather daringly as it turned out, since she did not inform the school board — offered a Canadian literature course in place of the regular English one and one of the books she assigned was Lives of Girls and Women.

Her stories in a way gave me permission and the confidence to explore my own inner life.– Lisa Alward

“The back of my paperback edition suggested this was a novel, but it was clearly not, and I remember feeling as though I’d crossed into a new country — one where the scattered moments in a girl’s life not only mattered but were revealed to be more nuanced, so much richer in meaning, than I’d ever imagined.

“Her stories in a way gave me permission and the confidence to explore my own inner life. When I began writing stories in my fifties, I turned to her again as a guide, to encourage myself to notice more, to think more deeply and honestly. She is in my DNA as a writer, as she is for so many.”

Gwen Tuinman

A grey-haired woman looks at the camera.
Gwen Tuinman is an Ontario author. (Random House Canada)

Gwen Tuinman is an Ontario author. She is descended from Irish tenant farmers and English Quakers and her work explores women navigating the social restrictions of their era. Her latest work, the historical novel Unrest, was published in 2024.

“To read Alice Munro’s work is to read about ourselves and people we’ve encountered in real life. I admire her courage in writing characters who voice thoughts that most of us have contemplated but are reluctant to say aloud. As a writer, I’m inspired by her depictions of women’s interior lives and personal experiences in ways that remain fresh and surprising. She affirms my desire to do the same. 

I admire her courage in writing characters who voice thoughts that most of us have contemplated but are reluctant to say aloud.– Gwen Tuinman

“I’m most drawn to Alice’s short story, Royal Beatings. She so artfully escalated the tension between teenage Rose and her stepmother, then turned the whole story on its head by exploding the anger of the remote father. Alice told how it is to be a woman in a man’s world. Rose’s half-brother enjoyed a freer life than she could. Being a boy, free to help or not, involve himself or not. And then there was the flasher holding his baloney sausage on a bridge.

“I’ll always remember the long white legs of Rose’s floor-scrubbing stepmother, marked over with blue veins as if somebody had been drawing rivers on them with an indelible pencil. Overheard mutterings of macaroni, pepperoni, Botticelli, beans stay with me. The mention of Salada Tea, roller skates and beaver board evoke my nostalgia for a Hanratty hometown I’ve never visited. 

“Time and time again, I return to Royal Beatings to admire and, with continued pleasure, attempt to untangle Alice Munro’s storytelling sleight of hand.”

Loghan Paylor

A black and white image of an author.
Loghan Paylor is a B.C.-based author. (Michael Paylor)

Loghan Paylor is an Ontario-born author currently based in Abbotsford, B.C. They have an MA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia and their short fiction and essays have previously appeared in publications including Room and Prairie Fire. Their debut novel, The Cure for Drowning, is a historical work that centres queer and non-binary characters and was published in 2024.

“Like many Ontario schoolchildren, I first encountered Alice Munro’s writing in the classroom. I was young enough that most of their nuance went over my head, but when I returned to her work in later years, her stories caught me anew each time with their keen, quiet observations. 

“As a writer, Munro inspired me to look around at my home province, at its landscape and its people, with new eyes. Her writing taught me that no person, no place, and no relationship is ever too small or too humble to contain a deep well of narrative potential. 

Munro inspired me to look around at my home province, at its landscape and its people, with new eyes.– Loghan Paylor

“The most influential Alice Munro work in my life is Miles City, Montana. The tension that builds throughout the story is a masterclass in harnessing imagery and emotion to drive towards a breaking point. As the surreality of an imagined tragedy grows to eclipse the present, I am compelled to follow the narrator’s seductive anxieties in a way that is terribly relatable as a reader and a brilliant education in craft.”

Madeleine Thien

A woman with bangs smiles on a city balcony.
Madeleine Thien is the author of the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize winning novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing. (Writing the Land/CBC)

Madeleine Thien is a short story writer and novelist. She is the author of novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing, which won the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Award in 2016 and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Her debut novel, Certainty, published in 2006, was a finalist for the 2007 Kiriyama Prize. Thien’s other books include novel Dogs at the Perimeter and children’s book The Chinese Violin.

“When I first started reading her, for me, I felt like I recognized my mother’s life. My mother’s born in Hong Kong, totally different trajectory, but there was something about desire, change, even wanting to flee one’s own life. I think some of us are the children of those who fled and in Alice Munro we found our mothers in different ways, or even ourselves as time went on. And I think what has moved me so much about her writing life is it’s clear her devotion has been to the story and the constant shifting of the question of what the story really is. Her devotion wasn’t to be a writer in the world. Her devotion was to know what the story is. And I think she’s definitely a light for all of us. 

“My sense is that she saw women clearly. I think that’s one of the powerful things of why the work is lasting and will last a very long time. She is a writer that through artifice knew truth and I think that’s why we recognize it as we age, from generation to generation. 

She is a writer that through artifice knew truth.– Madeleine Thien

“As a writer, she is our literary mother. I think that our generation grew up in that blossoming, not that her work blossomed, but that the blossoming of appreciation for her work really marks my twenties all the way to the present. I believe she got to some purity of language in which real and living lives could exist in this vessel. I think she has an amazing memory for the things she saw and the world in which she came of age and she observed in these 90-something years.”

LISTEN | Remembering Alice Munro

Commotion with Elamin Abdelmahmoud25:00Remembering Alice Munro

Alice Munro, Canadian master of the short story and Nobel winner, has died at 92 years of age. Her longtime publisher Douglas Gibson, and writers Heather O’Neill and Madeleine Thien join Elamin to talk about her life and legacy.

Douglas Gibson

A man with grey hair and a goatee.
Douglas Gibson is a Toronto-based publisher, editor and writer. (Douglas Gibson Books)

Douglas Gibson is a publisher, editor and writer of the memoir Stories About Storytellers. Gibson was Munro’s editor starting in 1978 and her publisher for many years. He is based in Toronto. 

“She’s so much the opposite of the major figure who is pontificating from high. Instead, she’s simply telling stories as she believes they should be. I once went to Trinity College, Dublin to celebrate with her because she was about to receive the International Man Booker Prize for her life’s work. And at the long room in the famous library, the greats of Europe were standing around chatting excitedly, but Alice was sitting off quietly by herself. I was outraged by this and said, ‘Why aren’t you out there mingling before you get this great prize?’ And the woman from Huron County said darkly, ‘They might change their mind.’ So that was Alice. A great sense of humour about everything.

I was very, very lucky to be able to bring her stories to a wider world.– Douglas Gibson

“But how much I miss Alice and her stories, her laughter and her friendship. She was a very good friend to have and I was very lucky to be one of her friends. And I was very, very lucky to be able to bring her stories to a wider world.”

LISTEN | Alice Munro’s friend and editor on what made her ‘a world-class figure

As It Happens7:10Alice Munro’s friend and editor on what made her ‘a world-class figure’

Canadian author Alice Munro has died at the age of 92. The Nobel Prize-winning writer once credited her global success to the support of her former editor, Douglas Gibson. In an interview with As It Happens host Nil Köksal, Gibson says he’ll always remember Munro for “her stories, her laughter and her friendship.”

Alexander MacLeod

A man wearing a light blue dress shirt looks at the camera. He has brown hair and stubble.
Alexander MacLeod has landed on the Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist with his debut story collection, Light Lifting. (Heather Crosby/Biblioasis)

Born in Inverness, Cape Breton and raised in Windsor, Ont., Alexander MacLeod is a short story writer and academic. His debut short story collection Light Lifting was shortlisted for the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize, the 2011 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and the Commonwealth Prize. It won the Atlantic Book Award. His short story Lagomorph won a 2019 O. Henry Award and is part of his fiction collection Animal Person

“Like a lot of people trying to work in the short story all over the world, everywhere I have ever traveled, Alice’s name rings out. She was kind of a superhero like the inspiration to all of us to work hard on the craft. She was a sort of defender of the short story though she would never defend it as a form but what she was able to pull off in her stories obviously circled the world and will last forever. 

What Alice Munro tapped into, everybody, everywhere, forever, recognizes. It just had never been put on the page.– Alexander MacLeod

“What Alice Munro tapped into, everybody, everywhere, forever, recognizes. It just had never been put on the page. You could send an Alice Munro story to the ancient Greeks and they would recognize it because what she had about the relationship about women intergenerationally, mothers and daughters, what she had about disappointment or desire, what she tapped into has always been there but you would never find it in the literary record before she found it. Before she wrote it down.”

LISTEN | Alexander MacLeod about Alice Munro

Information Morning – Cape Breton7:06Alexander MacLeod on Alice Munro

Inverness born Author Alexander MacLeod reflects on the literary legacy of Alice Munro.

Fawn Parker

Portrait of a white female poet with blonde hair.
Fawn Parker is a Canadian poet and writer. (Steph Martyniuk)

Fawn Parker is an author and currently a PhD student at the University of New Brunswick. Her novel What We Both Know was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2022. Soft Inheritance is her first poetry collection.

“Half A Grapefruit is one of my favourites. There’s just this little lie she tells that that’s what she has for breakfast because she’s embarrassed about her reality at home. It just starts to it reveals her whole personality, that one little moment.

I think of her softness as this power that she had, where it stays with you and you reread and it hits you in a different way again and again.– Fawn Parker

“I think [she understood the inner lives of women incredibly well] and had a talent too for communicating it very subtly. I always think about her versus the more I hate to gender it, but like the masculine writing style of packing a punch of a huge plot or a huge splash in a career with this one giant bestseller. And I think of her softness as this power that she had, where it stays with you and you reread and it hits you in a different way again and again. And so I think that understanding of the softness of real life and reality and the pain that can be woven into that. She just was such a natural master of that.

LISTEN | Fawn Parker discusses the impact of Alice Munro: 

Information Morning – Fredericton8:49The impact of ​Alice Munro

​Alice Munro, a Canadian author revered worldwide, has died. She was a master of the short story and won the Nobel Prize in Literature. She was 92. Jeanne Armstrong spoke to local author Fawn Parker about the impact Munro had on her life.

Leo McKay Jr.

A man wearing a grey hat and black glasses.
Leo McKay Jr. is the a writer and high school teacher from Nova Scotia. (Jodi O’Brien)

Leo McKay, Jr. is a writer and a high school teacher. His novel Twenty-Six won the Dartmouth Book Award and was chosen for the One Book Nova Scotia event. His debut collection of stories, Like This, also won the Dartmouth Book Award and was a finalist for the Giller Prize. He is also known for his novel What Comes Echoing Back

“One of the inspirational things about [her work] is just how varied that work is. It’s all short stories. And I think if people read some of her stories, if they only sample one particular era of her work, they might have an oversimplified idea of what that work is like. If you follow her throughout her career, the early stories and the middle stories and the later stories are all very different in their techniques and their subject matter.

Reading work like that teaches you to honour every moment of human life as having enormous potential.– Alice Munro

“But all of it is a careful examination of the moments, the individual moments of human life. Reading work like that teaches you to honour every moment of human life as having enormous potential.”

LISTEN | Leo McKay Jr. pays emotional tribute to Alice Munro

Information Morning – NS8:15Truro author remembers acclaimed Canadian writer Alice Munro

Nova Scotian writer Leo McKay pays an emotional tribute to Canadian short story author Alice Munro, who has died at age 92. He tells us about meeting her in person, an unforgettable moment in life. 

Measha Brueggergosman-Lee

Alice Munro was ‘very much in my soul,’ famed soprano says

3 days ago

Duration 3:43

Measha Brueggergosman-Lee, an award-winning Canadian soprano who championed Alice Munro’s writing on Canada Reads, says Munro ‘shaped so much of how I see the world.’

Measha Brueggergosman-Lee is an award-winning opera singer who has soloed in prestigious concert halls over the world. She’s the author of memoir Something Is Always On Fire and defended Company Town by Madeline Ashby on Canada Reads 2017. She also defended Munro’s The Love of a Good Woman on Canada Reads 2004.

“I was terribly infatuated with just the way she would describe things. And I was not one for the mundane but she made it so lifelike. 

It was very much in my soul.– Measha Brueggergosman-Lee

“There was one short story called Before The Change that talked of an underground abortion clinic and I hadn’t considered so many of the details that she brought to life in her gentle way, how she brought a voice to the voiceless, the thoughts, even the minutiae that exists in a difficult, tense relationship between a father and a daughter, an underground activist of a sort and these long-term relationships that she just chewed the gristle of literarily. It really shaped my parenting frankly, more than what bubbles up for the public to see, it was very much in my soul.” 

Deborah Willis

A blonde woman with curtain bangs smiling.
Deborah Willis is the author of two short story collections: The Dark and Other Love Stories and Vanishing and Other Stories. (Darshan Stevens)

Deborah Willis is a fiction writer currently based in Calgary. She debuted in 2009 with Vanishing and Other Stories which was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction. She followed it up with a collection of short fiction entitled The Dark and Other Love Stories in 2017, which was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Her most recent novel Girlfriend on Mars was on the 2023 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist. She worked at Munro Books in Victoria, B.C.

“Her stories are so remarkable that I still have really clear memories of when I first read her work. I remember being in my childhood room reading her stories. 

Her work was the most influential in my mind. And I still carry it with me.– Deborah Willis

“Because I was a short story writer first, I wrote two collections of short stories, her work was the most influential in my mind. And I still carry it with me. I just published a novel but I remember thinking, ‘even though I’m writing something very different than she ever wrote, a novel that’s satirical, that’s meant to be political and funny, what I really wanted to carry into that novel are the lessons I learned from her.”

LISTEN | Deborah Willis remembering Alice Munro

Calgary Eyeopener7:55Remembering Alice Munro

We talk to a Calgary author about the late Alice Munro’s life and legacy.

Joan Barfoot

A woman with blonde shoulder length hair and circular glasses in a black and white photo.
Joan Barfoot is the author of 9 novels. (Victor Aziz)

Joan Barfoot is a London, Ont.-based author of nine novels. Her most recent book, Critical Injuries, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. She was a Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist for Luck.

“People in that area [rural Ontario] live or lived pretty rigorous lives and in a way, pretty hidden lives, that you got on with things and you didn’t necessarily show a lot. You might do a lot but you were unknowable in a way. And Alice tapped into the parts that were unknown, she went underneath. And she didn’t judge, she was sort of headed into journalism as a young woman and maybe that’s a chicken and egg thing, what was she bringing to it.

Alice tapped into the parts that were unknown, she went underneath.– Joan Barfoot

“But the watching and the analyzing, and the endless curiosity, dig a little deeper, see what’s underneath, even if people don’t want to show you or can’t show you, but there are humans under there.”

LISTEN | Looking back on Alice Munro on The Current

The Current12:39Why Alice Munro was a master of the short story

Canadian short story writer Alice Munro has died, aged 92. Matt Galloway talks to those who knew the Nobel Prize winner both as a friend and a master of her craft.

Esi Edugyan

Esi Edugyan is a Canadian author.
Esi Edugyan is a Canadian author. (Tamara Poppitt)

Esi Edugyan is the author of the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning Washington BlackWashington Black was also a finalist for the 2018 Man Booker Prize and the 2018 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize.

Edugyan is also the author of the novels The Second Life of Samuel Tyne and Half-Blood Blues, the latter of which won the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize and was defended on Canada Reads by Donovan Bailey in 2014. She delivered the CBC Massey Lectures and adapted the series into the book Out of the Sun: On Race and Storytelling. Raised in Calgary, Edugyan now lives in Victoria.

“[Munro’s short stories] are just whole worlds contained in, compressed in 30 to 50 pages. You just can’t fathom how she did this. The cliche about her work is to say that her stories were like novels, but that’s truly the case. You felt there was such depth. You got a whole sense of a life withing a short span of pages. 

As a writer, I am in awe of her and as a reader she couldn’t have given me more pleasure.– Esi Edugyan

“As a writer, I am in awe of her and as a reader she couldn’t have given me more pleasure.”

LISTEN | Esi Edugyan on Alice Munro’s impact on the B.C. literary scene

On The Coast6:01B.C. author Esi Edugyan on the passing of Alice Munro

Canadian icon Alice Munro has died. B.C.-based author Esi Edugyan discusses Munro’s impact on the province’s literary scene.

Michael Christie

Michael Christie smiles widely into the camera with bookshelves in the background.
Greenwood author Michael Christie. (Michael Christie)

Michael Christie is a novelist currently living in Victoria. His 2011 short story collection The Beggar’s Garden won the Vancouver Book Award and was a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. His 2015 novel If I Fall, If I Die won the Northern Lit Award and was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. His novel Greenwood was championed by actor and filmmaker Keegan Connor Tracy on Canada Reads 2023, on the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist and won the 2020 Arthur Ellis Award (now the Canadian Crime Writing Awards) for best novel.

“From my first short story collection that I wrote which was my first book, I honestly at times would go into her stories and just look at the structure, look how she crafted them, look how she told the story and take serious inspiration, if not borrowing from her structures.

She was such an incredible craftsperson in terms of how her stories were created.– Michael Christie

“Because that’s something people don’t talk about enough is that she was such an incredible craftsperson in terms of how her stories were created. She could pack an entire life, an entire human lifespan into 50 pages, which is astonishing when you consider how much skill that takes to accomplish.” 

LISTEN | Michael Christie on Alice Munro

Radio West8:26BC-based author Michael Christie reflects on legacy of Alice Munro who died at the age of 92

BC-based author Michael Christie reflects on legacy of Alice Munro who died at the age of 92

Lisa Moore

Lisa Moore remembers the power of Alice Munro’s writing — especially her female characters

2 days ago

Duration 2:08

Award-winning author Lisa Moore says when she got word that Alice Munro had died, the shock of losing a literary giant brought tears to her eyes. She tells the CBC’s Jamie Fitzpatrick that Munro had many talents as a wordsmith, but one in particular was doing away with one-dimensional female characters.

Lisa Moore is a Newfoundland-based writer. Her books include This is How We LoveCaught, FebruaryAlligatorOpen and Something for Everyone. She has been nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize three times: in 2002 for Open, in 2005 for Alligator and in 2013 for Caught. Her novel February won Canada Reads in 2013, when it was defended by comedian Trent McClellan. 

“She really captured women’s desire. There are women in her stories who just have tremendous amounts of desire. And they’re not always nice about it. They’re not always morally correct about it but I think she threw out the idea of niceness when it comes to women.

She really captured women’s desire.– Lisa Moore

“I think she portrayed women as desirous beings in a way that I had not seen in literature before, especially when you think of the great male story writers. This was new and it was messy and it was really female-centred. And I would say because of that very feminist.”

Lorna Crozier

A woman wearing orange and blue circle glasses with short curly grey hair.
Lorna Crozier is a Governor General’s Literary Award-winning poet. (Tom O’Flanagan)

Lorna Crozier is a Governor General’s Literary Award-winning poet who has written more than 15 books. She won the 1987 CBC Poetry Prize for Angels of Silence. Her other poetry collections include God of Shadows and What the Soul Doesn’t Want.

“What most thrilled me was the sexuality, the desire she was able to put on the page. Because I don’t think a lot of women at that time, especially in Canada, were admitting that women were sexual beings. Alice did that and she contrasted that with the silence of the time. All the things that we weren’t allowed to talk about, all the things we weren’t allowed to be and she fought against that I think both personally and in her writing. And that was very important to me. 

She was a crafter of the perfect sentence and there was often a turn even within the sentence that showed her beautiful, beautiful wit.– Lorna Crozier

“And then there was the writing itself. She was a crafter of the perfect sentence and there was often a turn even within the sentence that showed her beautiful, beautiful wit.”

LISTEN | Lorna Crozier on Alice Munro’s legacy

On The Island8:58The legacy of Alice Munro – we’ll talk about the Nobel-laureate’s writing with poet Lorna Crozier

Gregor Craigie spoke with Victoria poet and writer Lorna Crozier, reflecting on the life of the late Alice Munro.

Alix Ohlin

A woman with auburn hair against a black background.
Alix Ohlin is a Vancouver-based writer and a professor in creative writing department at the University of British Columbia. (Emily Cooper)

Alix Ohlin is a writer from Vancouver and a professor in the creative writing department at the University of British Columbia. Her books include the novels Inside, Dual Citizens and the short story collections Signs and Wonders and We Want What We Want. Both Inside and Dual Citizens were finalists for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, in 2012 and 2019.

“What she did with the short story was boldly experimental but it’s not always visible at first. She would often start a story in a very unexpected place, she would travel radically across time, she would bring together disparate elements within one story and then she was particularly known for her endings which would lead you into a very surprising and unpredictable place and sort of leave you with your jaw open, thinking, ‘How did she do that? How did she make meaning out of so many disparate moments and experiences?’ For me, that is what is so enduring about her command of the short story, the way that it is about the surprises that are inherent in the most ordinary lives.”

For me, that is what is so enduring about her command of the short story, the way that it is about the surprises that are inherent in the most ordinary lives.– Alix Ohlin

Aislinn Hunter

A woman with long black hair against a teal backdrop.
Aislinn Hunter is a novelist and poet. (Submitted by Aislinn Hunter)

Aislinn Hunter is a Vancouver-based writer and academic. Her 2002 novel Stay was adapted for film by Wiebke Von Carolsfeld in 2013. The World Before Us, set in a British museum, was awarded the 2015 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. Her other books include novel The Certainties and poetry collections Into the Early Hours and Linger, Still. Her grandfather was Munro’s cousin. 

“I had this opportunity to spend time with her. She was, as many people are saying in other media, extraordinarily generous. It was like having a cool naughty aunt who’d dip in every now and again, who’d be stern with me but also was supportive. She was supposed to be immortal. I think that many people are feeling that: writers and readers.

The work is so deeply considered but it reads almost as effortless, which is such a hard thing to master.– Aislinn Hunter

“I think I had to grow into loving and admiring her work and then when you do have the craft, as a writer, you can see what’s being done it’s startling work. She is, to me, of so many of those writers that have the quality of aliveness in a work. The work is so deeply considered but it reads almost as effortless, which is such a hard thing to master.”

LISTEN | Alix Ohlin and Aislinn Hunter on Alice Munro

The Early Edition9:09Famed short story writer Alice Munro died Tuesday at 92

We speak to Vancouver writers Alix Ohlin and Aislinn Hunter about her lasting legacy.


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