paper trail

Canadian short-story writer Alice Munro has died; the Freedom to Write for Palestine fundraiser

Alice Munro. Photo: Derek Shapton/Penguin Random House

Alice Munro, the Canadian author of fourteen original short-story collections, has died at the age of ninety-two. Munro’s 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature was seen as a triumph for the art of the short story; the Swedish Academy described her as a master of the genre, echoing many critics, readers, and writers including Cynthia Ozick, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, and Jonathan Franzen. Munro told the Paris Review in 1994: “I never made a decision with any thought of my writing. And yet I never thought that I would abandon it. I guess because I didn’t understand that you could have conditions for writing that would be any better than any other conditions.” Granta has removed the paywall from four of Munro’s short stories that appeared in the magazine: “Night,” “In Sight of the Lake,” and parts one and two of “A Queer Streak.” 

In the May issue of The Nation, Sam Adler-Bell reviews Hannah Proctor’s Burnout: The Emotional Experience of Political Defeat: “Bitterness and melancholy are set against another disposition that Proctor explores in Burnout: mourning, which, she argues, can transmute despair into new founts of political action.” 

At Publishers Weekly, Sophie Stewart writes about the Freedom to Write for Palestine fundraiser last week. The gathering was held in New York City at the Judson Memorial Church among writers who withdrew from PEN America’s World Voices Festival and Literary Awards Ceremony (which were both canceled in late April) in answer to the organization’s response to the war in Gaza. “PEN America’s failure to take a stand is what brings us here tonight,” novelist Nancy Kricorian said in her opening remarks. Writers including Kay Gabriel, Hari Kunzru, Michelle Alexander, Sabrina Imbler, and Marie Myung-Ok Lee read at the event. Stewart notes that “a number of writers” read work by Palestinian writers from the group We Are Not Numbers, including Haidar al-Ghazali, Haya Abu Nasser, and Dima Maher Ashour.

At the Yale Review, Ben Libman writes about the late Paul Auster and “the driving question of all of Auster’s work: writer or detective—what’s the difference? Not only does the novelist see himself in the detective but the detective sees himself in the novelist.” 

Justin Taylor talks with Adam Colman on the latest episode of his podcast The Cosmic Library about the strangeness of early American short stories, Poe and Hawthorne, and brevity.