Alice Munro
Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro (r) with fellow author Elizabeth Hay in 2007 (Reuters)

Canadian author Alice Munro has become the 13th woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, it has been announced.

Munro, 82, won the prize for her "finely tuned storytelling, which is characterised by clarity and psychological realism".

The award was announced by The Swedish Academy but organisers were unable to contact her, so had to inform her of the win over voicemail.

"The Swedish Academy has not been able to get a hold of Alice Munro, left a phone message," they tweeted.

Munro's works include Dear Life and Dance of the Happy Shades, for which she won the 1968 Governor General's Award for Fiction. She was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 1980 for The Beggar Maid and won the Giller Prize twice.

Alice Munro
Alice Munro could not be contacted to inform her of her win (Twitter/NobelPrize)

The award is worth eight million kronor (£770,000) and is only presented to living writers. Last year's winner was Chinese author Mo Yan and previous recipients include Ernest Hemmingway and Rudyard Kipling.

Munro was born in Ontario. Her mother was a teacher and her father was a fox farmer. She studied journalism and English at the University of Western Ontario, but dropped out in 1951 when she married.

She began writing in her teens and published her first book in 1968, the collection Dance of the Happy Shades.

"Munro is acclaimed for her finely tuned storytelling, which is characterised by clarity and psychological realism. Some critics consider her a Canadian Chekhov," Nobel said in a statement.

"Her stories are often set in small town environments, where the struggle for a socially acceptable existence often results in strained relationships and moral conflicts - problems that stem from generational differences and colliding life ambitions. Her texts often feature depictions of everyday but decisive events, epiphanies of a kind, that illuminate the surrounding story and let existential questions appear in a flash of lightning."