The Swedish Academy explained its decision when it announced on October 5th that he was receiving the award “for his innovative plays and prose that give voice to the unspeakable.”
The author was caught off guard by the news that he had won the Nobel Prize in Literature. He was sitting in the car when he received a call from the academy. “I was surprised and then again not,” he told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.
Awarded for “Fosse Minimalism”
The writer donated several notebooks to the Nobel Prize Museum – including an as yet unpublished book. The Norwegian (“Morning and Evening”, “The
other name”) won the Nobel Prize for Literature this year
won. The museum always asks laureates who come to Nobel Week to bring an object that will help them tell a story, a spokeswoman said. Fosse donated four notebooks that contained an unpublished book. According to Swedish news agency TT, the book, titled “Vaim,” could be published next year. Jon Fosse has been one of the favorites for the renowned literary prize for years. He had “prepared more or less cautiously for the fact that this could happen.” But he assures the NRK: “But believe me, I didn’t expect to get the prize today.” The award ceremony highlighted the author’s novels, which are known for their greatly reduced style of “Fosse minimalism”.
Fosse writes in a very reduced style
Fosse said he was “very, very happy” but was also a little afraid of all the attention that the Nobel Prize would bring, adding: “I see this as an award for literature, which primarily wants to be literature, without any other considerations.”
“Fosse minimalism” characterizes Jon Fosse’s worksImage: Pontus Lundahl/TT/IMAGO
Dark and silent plays have made the Norwegian famous. There is often something melancholic and mystical about his texts. The French newspaper “Le Monde” called him “the Beckett of the 21st century.” Fosse has already written a wealth of works and has received many awards. His first drama in German, “The Name”, won him the Ibsen Prize and the Austrian Theater Prize. His most recent work published in German is the novel “I is another” (Rowohlt
Jon Fosse: “Everything I write is a kind of prayer”
Jon Fosse was born on September 29, 1959 in Hausgesund, Norway. In 1983 he published his first novel “Red, Black”. Since then, numerous novels have been added: stories, volumes of poetry, collections of essays and even children’s books.
His first play with the English title “And We’ll Never Be Parted” premiered in 1994 – after which he wrote around 40 more plays.
In 1999, Jon Fosse had his international breakthrough as a playwright with the production of “Someone Is Going to Come” by the late French theater director Claude Regy.
According to the Booker Prize website, his plays have been performed more than a thousand times around the world in 50 languages.
Nobel Prize in Literature for Norwegian Jon Fosse
Jon Fosse has been a member of the Academy of Arts in Berlin since 2022. In 2015, he received the Nordic Council Literature Prize, the most prestigious literary prize in Scandinavia, for his prose work “Trilogy”.
His “Septology”, which appeared in three volumes from 2019-2021 under the titles “The Other Name”, “I Is Another” and “A New Name”, is also impressive: the monologue of an older artist. On 1,250 pages, the prose work offers a dark but ecstatic reflection on art and God.
Fosse told the New Yorker magazine that the aging man’s reckoning with religion was “not at all autobiographical.” The Norwegian, who converted to Catholicism in 2013, says he is a pious man. “Everything I write is a kind of prayer,” he recently told the Neue Züricher Zeitung.
Versatile author: Jon Fosse writes plays, novels, prose and translates classicsImage: Hakon Mosvold Larsen/NTB/REUTERS
In addition to realizing his own literary projects, Fosse has also translated works by other authors, including Franz Kafka’s “The Trial,” which he describes as one of his favorite novels.
Literary critic Scheck: “Anything but a Scandinavian home game”
German literary critic Denis Scheck welcomes the news that Jon Fosse will receive this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature. “I’m happy for him. I think it’s an excellent choice,” he told the German Press Agency. “This is anything but a Scandinavian home game, but real world literature.” Fosse is an author who found new forms of expression for human loneliness and “a kindred spirit of Samuel Beckett.”
Scheck also explained to the editorial network Germany: “His language exerts a pull that comes from the rhythm of repetitions and omissions.” The religious charge of Fosse’s texts should not be underestimated.
Only 17 women have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature
Last year the award went to the French writer Annie Ernaux. She was only the 17th woman among the 120 Nobel Prize winners in literature to date. In recent years, the award has alternated between men and women.
The last German-speaking Nobel Prize winner for literature was the Austrian Peter Handke, who was awarded the prestigious award in 2019. Previously it went to, among others, Günter Grass (1999), Heinrich Böll (1972), Hermann Hesse (1946) and Thomas Mann (1929). The Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded since 1901.
The traditional day of the award ceremony is December 10th, the anniversary of the death of the prize donor and dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel (1833-1896). It is endowed with eleven million Swedish crowns (almost 950,000 euros), one million more than last year.