Jon Fosse has won the 2023 Nobel Prize in literature, “for his innovative plays and prose which give voice to the unsayable.”
The 64-year-old playwright is not well known outside his home country of Norway, where he was born on the western coast in the city of Haugesund. But the author is internationally celebrated in literary circles and has been called “the most produced living playwright.” He has won prestigious European awards and has long been fully subsidized by the Norway government, with a lifetime stipend and a residence near the Royal Palace in Oslo. In 2007 he was made a Knight in France’s National Order of Merit.
In its citation, the Nobel committee wrote, “His immense oeuvre, written in Norwegian Nynorsk and spanning a variety of genres consists of a wealth of plays, novels, poetry collections, essays, children’s books and translations. While he is today one of the most widely performed playwrights in the world, he has also become increasingly recognised for his prose.”
The author has often been called “the new Henrik Ibsen,” and Mats Malm, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, evoked Samuel Beckett as he discussed Fosse’s “artistry in the wake of modernism” during his announcement. But Damion Searls made a different comparison in a 2015 essay in The Paris Review.
“Think of the four elder statesmen of Norwegian letters as a bit like the Beatles,” he wrote. “Per Petterson is the solid, always dependable Ringo; Dag Solstad is John, the experimentalist, the ideas man; Karl Ove Knausgaard is Paul, the cute one; and Fosse is George, the quiet one, mystical, spiritual, probably the best craftsman of them all.”
The playwrigth begin as a novelist, and did not break throguh as a theater writer until he was in his forties. Og aldri skal vi skiljast (And We’ll Never Be Parted)
The Nobel Committee has been criticized for its focus on European and Anglo writers; only five writers of color have received in the award in the past twenty years. Last year’s award went to French writer Annie Ernaux, now 83.