When the Nobel Prize in Literature was announced Thursday morning, literary Twitter flowed in three general veins: congratulations for the much-admired Alice Munro, the new Nobel laureate; wry commentary on how the prize is talked about in Western media outlets; and warm jokes, including the inevitable twerking.
The applause came from many quarters:
Bestselling novelist @jodipicoult: Love, love, LOVE that #AliceMunro won the #Nobel.
Booker Prize-winning novelist @SalmanRushdie: Many congrats to Alice Munro. When I edited Best American Short Stories I wanted to pick 3 of hers. A true master of the form. #NobelPrize
Amy Davidson, an editor at the New Yorker, posted a link to the magazine's stories by Alice Munro, tweeting from @tnyCloseRead: Link to dozens of Alice Munro stories in @NewYorker, 1977-2012 (some sub. req.). Very happy—feel almost Canadian!
Canadian writer @sheilaheti: Deeply excited for the wonderful Alice Munro for winning the Nobel Prize in Literature 2013.
Memoirist Mary Karr (@marykarrlit): Brava Nobella Alice Munro. Last I heard, you cldn't pay your bills. We honor yr stories. Faulkner out of print when he got his. Good for you
The Toronto-based International Festvial of Authors (@ifoa) tweeted: Our dear dear friend Alice Munro has won the Nobel Prize for Literature! What an amazing moment! #canlit #AliceMunro
And then the jokes, which begin with a strange turn of events. The apparently official (but unverified) Nobel account tweeted that it could not reach Alice Munro to tell her the news. The @Nobelprize_org tweet -- @Nobelprize.org is trying to reach #AliceMunro for our traditional phone interview, still voice mail... #NobelPrize-- included a link to an audio recording of Munro's outgoing voicemail message.
About which fellow Canadian author and enthusiastic Munro supporter @MargaretAtwood tweeted: Okay, everyone's calling Me to get me to write about Alice! (Alice, come out from behind the tool shed and pick up the phone.) #AliceMunro.
Another joke was also a two-parter.
Bestselling mystery novelist @HarlanCoben tweeted: Now if only Alice Munro would twerk.... #Nobel
Canadian fan @janetsomerville, who described her feelings about the news as "unabashed, bouncy ebullience," replied: You clearly don't know Alice. She just might.
Novelist Gary Shteyngart (@Shteyngart) joked: What's the best way for my imaginary production company to send Alice Munro a muffin basket?
While actual Hollywood filmmaker Sarah Polley (@SarahEPolley), who adapted and directed Munro's story "The Bear Came Over the Mountain" into the movie "Away from Her," tweeted: Oh it is a lovely thing when people who don't seek recognition get it anyway. #NobelPrize #alicemunro
A few writers noted that Munro is a known quantity for American cultural observers. Typical sentiments:
Novelist Hari Kunzru (@harikunzru): Lots of relieved literary journalists who don't have to google translations by the winner. #Nobel
Critic Roxane Gay (@rgay): At least we are saved the cultural myopia of "who?!!" That normally accompanies the Nobel.