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Alice Munro Biography

(1931– ), Lives of Girls and Women, Who Do You Think You Are?, The Beggar Maid

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Mr Polly to New France

Canadian short-story writer and novelist, born in Wingham in southwestern Ontario, educated at the University of Western Ontario; she subsequently lived in British Columbia before returning to Ontario. Munro has been described as one of the finest living short-story writers and is acclaimed for her ability to dissect the contradictory passions of relationships. Her fictional territory is mainly provincial Ontario, a locale as extensive as Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County or Joyce's Dublin, and the emotional lives of its women, whose expectations and disappointments she unravels in supple prose. Her style appears to be naturalistic, but draws connections between ‘ordinary’ and ‘bizarre’ events, suggesting that the everyday and the extraordinary are frequently no more than different aspects of the same phenomenon. Her fiction is also notable for its dramatization of a range of other themes including the ways in which identity is shaped by popular culture, and the importance of fiction-making in day-to-day perceptions and activities. Her works include Lives of Girls and Women (1971), a novel; Who Do You Think You Are? (1978; UK title The Beggar Maid), a collection of linked short stories set in British Columbia which centres on the same protagonist and comes close to being a novel; and Open Secrets (1994), stories of which two are set outside Canada (one in Albania and the other in Australia). Further volumes of stories include Dance of the Happy Shades (1968), Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You (1974), The Moons of Jupiter (1982), The Progress of Love (1987), and Friend of My Youth (1990).

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