Canadian author Alice Munro has won the Nobel Prize for Literature for her tales of the struggles, loves and tragedies of women in small-town Canada.
The 82-year-old started writing stories in her teens and her works include The View from Castle Rock and Too Much Happiness.
The award committee called her the master of the contemporary short story. "Some critics consider her a Canadian Chekhov," the Swedish Academy said, comparing her to the 19th-century Russian short story writer in a statement on its website.
Munro told CBC Television she hoped the award "would make people see the short story as an important art; not just something you played around with until you get a novel written."
The author revealed in 2009 that she had undergone coronary bypass surgery and been treated for cancer. She said that she did not think winning the prize would change her decision announced early this year to stop writing.
Munro's merit, in the eyes of her admirers, was to introduce into her stories a richness of plot and depth of detail usually more characteristic of novels, Reuters reports.
The characters in her stories are often girls and women with seemingly unexceptional lives, who struggle with tribulations ranging from sexual abuse and stifling marriages to repressed love and the ravages of aging.
Munro becomes the second Canadian-born writer to win the prize, although she is the first winner to be thought of as distinctly Canadian. Saul Bellow, who won the award in 1976, was born in Quebec but raised in Chicago and is widely considered an American writer.