New Delhi: The 2023 NobelPrize in Literature is awarded to the Norwegian author Jon Fosse “for his innovative plays and prose which give voice to the unsayable.” This year’s #NobelPrize laureate in literature Jon Fosse was born in 1959 on the Norwegian west coast. His immense œuvre is written in Norwegian Nynorsk and spans a variety of genres consisting of plays, novels, poetry collections, essays, children’s books and translations.
Jon Fosse – awarded the 2023 NobelPrize in Literature – is today one of the most widely performed playwrights in the world and has become increasingly recognised for his prose. The human condition is the central theme of Fosse’s body of work, irrespective of genre.
2023 NobelPrize laureate Jon Fosse’s breakthrough as a dramatist came with the 1999 production of his play ‘Nokon kjem til å komme’ (1996; ‘Someone Is Going to Come’, 2002). With its themes of fearful anticipation and crippling jealousy, Fosse’s singularity is fully evident.
This year’s literature laureate Jon Fosse writes novels heavily pared down to a style that has come to be known as ‘Fosse minimalism’.
This can be seen in his second novel ‘Stengd gitar’ (1985), when Fosse presents us with a harrowing variation on one of his major themes, the critical moment of irresolution. A young mother leaves her flat to throw rubbish down the chute but locks herself out, with her baby still inside. Needing to go and seek help, she is unable to do so since she cannot abandon her child. While she finds herself, in Kafkaesque terms, ‘before the law’, the difference is clear: Fosse presents everyday situations that are instantly recognisable from our own lives.
Jon Fosse – awarded the 2023 #NobelPrize in Literature – has much in common with his great precursor in Norwegian Nynorsk literature Tarjei Vesaas. Fosse combines strong local ties, both linguistic and geographic, with modernist artistic techniques. He includes in his Wahlverwandschaften such names as Samuel Beckett, Thomas Bernhard and Georg Trakl.
While Fosse shares the negative outlook of his predecessors, his particular gnostic vision cannot be said to result in a nihilistic contempt of the world. Indeed, there is great warmth and humour in his work, and a naïve vulnerability to his stark images of human experience.
2023 literature laureate Jon Fosse presents everyday situations that are instantly recognisable in our own lives. His radical reduction of language and dramatic action expresses the most powerful human emotions of anxiety and powerlessness in the simplest terms.
It is through laureate Jon Fosse’s ability to evoke man’s loss of orientation, and how this paradoxically can provide access to a deeper experience close to divinity, that he has come to be regarded as a major innovator in contemporary theatre.
Literature laureate Fosse’s magnum opus in prose is ‘Septology’ which he completed in 2021: ‘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).