Jon Fosse was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature “for his innovative plays and prose” which explore themes of spirituality, language and the sensory world, often with a philosophical bent.
(Bloomberg) — Jon Fosse was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature “for his innovative plays and prose” which explore themes of spirituality, language and the sensory world, often with a philosophical bent.
He is the fourth Norwegian to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, and the first since Sigrid Undset in 1928.
Fosse, 64, is a prolific playwright, novelist, poet and essayist who writes in his native Nynorsk. He is “one of the most widely performed playwrights in the world,” according to the Swedish Academy. In addition to his more than 40 plays, Fosse is perhaps best known for his Septology series, a seven-novel sequence in which an older man in a remote coastal village reckons with art, life, religion, and his own childhood memories in the days before Christmas.
Through spare, encircling descriptions and an attention to nature — a style he has referred to as “slow prose” — Fosse endeavors to capture what he calls “the mysticism of ordinary life.” He learned of his win while driving in the countryside near Bergen, the academy’s permanent secretary, Mats Malm, told reporters.
“Fosse presents everyday situations that are instantly recognizable from our own lives,” the Academy said.
Fosse is often compared to fellow Norwegian and former student Karl Ove Knausgaard, whose six-volume autobiographical novel My Struggle also deployed a hypnotic, stream-of-consciousness approach. In its press release, the Nobel Committee noted Fosse’s literary debt to Samuel Beckett, Thomas Bernhard, and Georg Trakl.
Fosse’s award marks the fourth Nobel win in less than ten years for his UK publisher, Fitzcarraldo Editions.
A central prose work is Trilogien (Trilogy, 2016), consisting of Andvake (2007), Olavs Draumar (2012) and Kveldsvævd (2014).
Fosse’s “magnum opus” is Septology, which he completed in 2021, and comprises seven novels across three books — Det andre namnet (2019; The Other Name, 2020), Eg er ein annan (2020; I is Another, 2020) and Eit nytt namn (2021; A New Name, 2021)
The 2023 literature award is worth 11 million kronor ($1 million).
Last year’s prize was given to France’s Annie Ernaux, and notable laureates in the field include Bob Dylan, who won the prize in 2016 for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” and Ernest Hemingway in 1954 for mastering the “art of narrative.”
Annual prizes for achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace were established in the will of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite, who died in 1896. A prize in economic sciences was added by Sweden’s central bank in 1968.
The laureates are announced through Oct. 9 in Stockholm, with the exception of the peace prize, whose recipients are selected by the Norwegian Nobel Committee in Oslo.
–With assistance from Anton Wilen and Christopher Jungstedt.
(Updates with details on Fosse throughout; adds second paragraph about previous Norwegian winners)
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