"Among writers, her name is spoken in hushed tones," fellow Canadian author Margaret Atwood once wrote. "She's the kind of writer about whom it is often said -- no matter how well known she becomes -- that she ought to be better known." Even greater than the monetary award, history shows a Nobel Prize is guaranteed to boost sales, even for the most unknown of literary works. In the literary world, Munro is well known, and for a short story writer, she has enjoyed commercial success. But in a world with so much to read, (what a wonderful problem) Munro awaits discovery; especially since short stories are often regarded as the illegitimate or low-life kin of the novel.
"I knew I was in the running, yes, but I never thought I would win," a grateful and humble Munro said after learning she had won, after finally being tracked down for a quote. "It just seems impossible. It seems so splendid a thing to happen that I can't describe it. It's more than I can say." She added later: "I would really hope that this would make people see the short story as an important art, not just something that you played around with until you'd got a novel written."
Discovering authors outside of top 10 lists or Nobel prizes can be hit or miss. The popularity of Oprah's Book Club, and the resulting sales after she recommended a book, illustrates how receptive people are to a recommendation from someone they respect. With Oprah's move to her OWN network, her influence is now not as strong, certainly to the dismay of writers. But avid non-fiction reader Jon Stewart, host of the "fake" news program, The Daily Show, shows a similar ability to influence sales.
BloombergBusinessWeek reported that a English-language memoir by an Japanese teenager with autism leaped over a bunch of bestselling books on Amazon after a heartfelt endorsement by Stewart. As of Thursday, "The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism," by Naoki Higashida (translated by David Mitchell and KA Yoshida), ranks No. 2 in sales.
Here at home, on the weekly TV program "Well Read" co-produced by TVW and KBTC public television, host Terry Tazioli and Seattle Times book editor Mary Ann Gwinn interview authors and talk about their latest books.
Unlike the redundant suggestions from Amazon after you've purchased a book, Nobel prizes and people like Stewart and Tazioli can introduce us titles we may not otherwise heard of, but upon discovery, will greedily devour.
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