There's a new interview with Alice Munro on the New Yorker website, which is a rare treat, since she doesn't do many interviews. (I don't know if it was done over e-mail or the phone or whatever, but I was especially tickled by the use of all-caps for emphasis!) Unfortunately, and perhaps not surprisingly, she restates her intention to retire from writing. She threatened to do so a few years ago, but kept going. This time, though, I'm more inclined to believe it. She had two scheduled public appearances in Toronto this year (one during an arts festival in the summer and another just last month on the publication of Dear Life), and cancelled both. She's said to be not in the best health. Hopefully, this won't be her last collection, but if it is, it certainly ends her career on a graceful note. (But let's not even think it!)
Speaking of literary retirements, the big news recently is that Philip Roth has officially put down the pen. Roth is reportedly in very fine health, but seems to have lost the inclination to keep writing novels. I generally run hot and cold on Roth, but it's always sad when a distinguished artist stops producing work, whatever the reason. Though, I thought his last book, Nemesis, was pretty good, so if that's his swan song, it's certainly not a bad one.
Finally, Louise Erdrich won the National Book Award for The Round House, which I haven't read, but which is turning out to be one of the year's big American novels. (Philip Roth, incidentally, mentions loving it in that NY Times article above.) It's a nice coming-out for Erdrich, who remains relatively under-the-radar for such a feted author -- she's written a ton of books, won the National Book Critics Circle Award and been a Pulitzer Prize finalist. The Round House has invited comparisons to To Kill a Mockingbird, and though it's very rare for a novel to do the NBA/Pulitzer double, I think Erdrich is very much in contention for the Pulitzer too.