Nobel Prize in Literature for Jon Fosse: Nordic favorite for 22 years

The Norwegian Jon Fosse has been considered a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature for decades. Now he is receiving awards for his plays and novels.

Nobel Prize winner for literature 2023: Norwegian author Jon Fosse Photo: Jessica Gow/TT/imago

STOCKHOLM taz | The only thing that actually speaks against a Nobel Prize in Literature for Jon Fosse is his age, said the Norwegian daily newspaper Aftenposten back in 2001. At just 42 years old, he is of course far too young for the Swedish Academy. That was probably a correct assessment, because in fact half of the award winners over the past 22 years were older than 70.

At least Fosse, now 64 years old, no longer seemed too young to the academy members this year. The academy announced Thursday that Jon Fosse will receive the award this year.

He has regularly appeared on the list of favorites over the last 22 years. In 2013, a British betting shop was even forced to stop all betting on Fosse because of a sudden suspicious wave of high stakes. Did someone know something they weren’t supposed to know? No, the Canadian author Alice Munro actually received the prize this year.

Cecilie Seinss, Fosse’s editor at the Samlaget publishing house, which publishes his books, said on Wednesday on Norwegian television that she had now given up trying to prepare anything specifically for this first Thursday in October. The only question is how long Fosse has to wait. As a precaution, there is a bottle of cider in the fridge just in case.

And why is he predicted to be a worthy winner year after year? “If you don’t know what kind of book you open, you automatically recognize that it’s Fosse,” she says: “He writes like no other, he has his own rhythm and his own musicality. “

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Jon Fosse’s debut novel “Raudt, svart” (Red, Black). He initially published volumes of poetry and novels, including the three-part children’s book series “Hundemanuscripta” (Dog Manuscripts) and “Søster” (Sister), which received the German Youth Literature Prize in 2007.

There have now been around 70 novels, stories and plays. They have been translated into over 50 languages. The list of national and international awards is even longer. He is currently one of the most performed European playwrights in the world, the most performed Norwegian playwright since Henrik Ibsen, one of “the most important playwrights of our time,” as the justification for the “International Ibsen Award” given to him in 2010 says.

He is incredibly hard-working, says Cecilie Seinss: “He writes like a madman.” His epic “Septologies,” which was published in three volumes between 2019 and 2021 – “the longest thing I have ever written” (Fosse) – is definitely calling for a Nobel Prize in Literature , wrote the Swedish one Uppsala Nya Tidning a few months ago. The Academy in Stockholm has now answered this call.

Jean Harris

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