Alice Munro’s Speech
Writing is a really strange thing. Say you begin when you’re seven years old, walking round and round in the yard outside your house – you would call it a garden – trying to think up a new ending, a salvation for The Little Mermaid. As it happens, Andersen already had a wonderful ending in place, but it’s too unbearable, you have to keep her from being changed to foam on the sea. The pursuit of the happy ending. You can’t live until you’ve got it in place.
Then seventy years later, you’ve still got life up for translation. The happy ending has been discarded, but you’re still at work – meaning is what you’re after, resonance, some strange beauty on the shimmer of the sea that was the Little Mermaid and her deathless lover.
You’re always fooling around with what you find, not so much interested in its usefulness as in transformation and revelation. Then, suddenly it’s amazing when someone says you were on the right track. They give you a prize and everyone from your life looks up, startled!
It is a wonderful shortlist, I would like to read every book on it.
I am truly grateful, grateful especially to the judges – Jane Smiley. Amit Chaudhuri and Andrey Kurkov.