So many pleasures attend Alice Munro’s winning the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature that they’re hard to count. She’s just the 13th woman to win since prizes were first given in 1901. She’s the first Canadian to have won, though American writer Saul Bellow was born in Canada (Munro is especially pleased that “this will bring more attention to Canadian writing,” as the New York Times quotes her saying). And while winners from Rudyard Kipling to Mario Vargas Llosa have practiced the short form, Munro appears to be the only winner to have devoted her efforts solely to short fiction, a particular discipline that takes focus and finesse. As the Swedish Academy noted when giving the award, Munro is the “master of the contemporary short story,” and it’s especially gratifying to see a winner who has clearly influenced other writers while keeping readers relentlessly engaged. Too bad that she has announced that after 2012’s Dear Life she will retire from writing. But what a terrific way to end a career.