October 22, 2013

Health concerns keep Alice Munro from attending Nobel ceremony


Alice Munro

As you undoubtedly know by now, Alice Munro is the most recent recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, recognized as being a “master of the short story.” When the Nobel award ceremonies roll around in December, though, Munro—82 years old—will not be able to attend, due to health reasons, Liz Bury writes for the Guardian.

The author of fourteen story collections, most recently 2012’s Dear Life, Munro has revealed in the past that she’s been treated for cancer and undergone heart bypass surgery. She’s also expressed a desire to retire, telling Canada’s National Post this summer that “[It’s] not that I didn’t love writing, but I think you do get to a stage where you sort of think about your life in a different way. And perhaps, when you’re my age, you don’t wish to be alone as much as a writer has to be. It’s like, at the wrong end of life, sort of becoming very sociable.”

So, while it’s traditional for the Nobel winner to deliver a lecture in Stockholm when the prizes are distributed, Munro has informed Swedish Academy permanent secretary Peter Englund that she won’t be able to make the trip in December (I’m sure it doesn’t help that December 10 is one of the shortest days of the year, particularly in the land of constant sunset in winter).

Munro is not the only Nobel laureate to decline to attend the ceremony in recent years, which makes a certain amount of sense, given the relatively advanced age of many of the recipients. Bury points out that Doris Lessing (87 when she won in 2007) and Harold Pinter (75 in 2005) both skipped it due to poor health. In Lessing’s case, the Nobel Foundation came to London to present the award to her there; as of yet, there’s no word on who will represent Munro at this year’s ceremony.


Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.