Norwegian author Jon Fosse wins the Nobel Prize in Literature: "Thoroughly Deserved," says professor
First Norwegian to clinch the esteemed award since Sigrid Undset in 1928.
On October 5, the Swedish Academy announced that this year's Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded to the Norwegian author and playwright, Jon Fosse.
Gratitude for the Norwegian language "Nynorsk"
"I am overwhelmed, deeply happy and grateful," Fosse conveyed in a statement from his publisher Samlaget, which publishes in Nynorsk, or "New Norwegian", a form of the Norwegian language used by ten percent of the population. Fosse emphasized:
"I choose to view this award as a recognition for the literature that seeks to be literature above all, without any secondary considerations. Moreover, I see this award as an honor for Nynorsk and its revival. Whether I like it or not, I must truthfully thank Nynorsk for this prize."
A Pleasant Surprise
The committee highlighted his innovative plays and prose, which articulate the inexpressible.
"It's extremely delightful and thoroughly deserved," commented Unni Langås to forskning.no. Langås, a professor of Nordic literature studies at the University of Agder, is one of Norway's experts on Jon Fosse.
"Even though rumors circulated and he has been mentioned as a potential winner for years, I was slightly surprised," she admits.
Jon Fosse's plays delve into universal human themes, spotlighting people grappling with life and death, explains Professor Langås.
"The award is richly deserved and honors an outstanding body of work," echoed Professor Jørgen Magnus Sejersted in a statement from the University of Bergen.
"Fosse has a distinct voice that he's cultivated over many years, spanning various genres," Sejersted added.
Fosse has an ardent following both domestically and internationally.
"People recognize the quality of his work. Part of his admiration comes from his extreme originality," Langås mentioned.
"He's not just narrating tales but employs a language that is immensely effective and consistently supports the theme. He writes in a very musical manner. Reading his works aloud, one can discern a pronounced rhythm in the text."
Fosse's literature is characterized by rhythmic repetitions and thematic recurrences, she elaborates.
His content revolves around universally human issues — people in vulnerable situations confronted with their past, facing life and death, grappling with anxiety, trauma, challenging memories, faith, and doubt.
"The way he crafts it is unparalleled," asserts Langås. "Jon Fosse has the prowess to stage multiple timelines concurrently. Both the past and the present."
Readers of his texts are often presented with interpretative challenges, experiencing multiple layers simultaneously.
Distinct Literary Style
Internationally, Fosse is perhaps best recognized as a playwright, with numerous plays showcased globally. He is the most renowned Norwegian playwright since Henrik Ibsen, according to Langås.
"Those in the literary realm are very familiar with Jon Fosse as a significant figure. His plays are often staged in intimate theaters across Europe, America, and Asia. This is because they're tightly directed, without an overload of props, song, or dance," she adds.
"His plays often have few actors, but they demand a lot from the director and actors. Much revolves around the language, the delivery of lines. There's a lot of subtext."
For those unfamiliar with his work, Langås recommends starting with the slender novel "Det er Ales," in English "Aliss at the Fire", which centers on an elderly woman reflecting on her life.
Fourth Norwegian Nobel Laureate
Over his career, Fosse has penned over 70 works, ranging from novels, plays, poems, narratives, to essays. His writings have been translated into more than 50 languages, making him one of Norway's most esteemed and awarded authors.
Earlier this year, he was nominated for the Booker Prize for his novel series "Septology".
Prior to Fosse, three Norwegian authors have won the Nobel Prize in Literature:
- Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson in 1903
- Knut Hamsun in 1920
- Sigrid Undset in 1928
The Nobel Prize comes with a monetary award of 11 million Swedish kronor, almost 1 million Euros.