Jon Fosse, a Norwegian master of spare Nordic writing, wins the Nobel Prize in literature

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Jon Fosse, a master of spare Nordic literature in a sprawling body of work ranging from plays to novels and children’s books, won the Nobel Prize in literature on Thursday for works that “give voice to the unsayable.”

Anders Olsson, chairman of the Nobel literature committee, said Fosse’s work is rooted “in the language and nature of his Norwegian background.”

“I am overwhelmed and grateful. I see this as an award to the literature that first and foremost aims to be literature, without other considerations,” Fosse, 64, said in a statement released by his publishing house, Samlaget.

One of his country’s most-performed dramatists, Fosse has written some 40 plays as well as novels, short stories, children’s books, poetry and essays. The Swedish Academy, which awards the prize, said it was “for his innovative plays and prose which give voice to the unsayable.”

Permanent Secretary of the Royal Academy of Sciences Hans Ellegren, center, announces the winner of the 2023 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, at the Royal Academy of Sciences, in Stockholm, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023. The Nobel Prize in physics has been awarded to scientists Moungi Bawendi, Louis Brus and Alexi Ekimov for discovery and synthesis of quantum dots. (Claudio Bresciani/TT News Agency via AP)Oops! Nobel chemistry winners are announced early in a rare slip-upThis combo image shows Professor Emeritus Louis Brus, left, Alexei Ekimov of Nanocrystals Technology Inc., center, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist Moungi Bawendi. The three scientists in the United States won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for their work on quantum dots. (AP Photo)3 scientists win Nobel in chemistry for quantum dots research used in electronics, medical imagingThis combo of pictures taken Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023, shows from left, French scientist Pierre Agostini posing in his apartment in Paris, Scientist Ferenc Krausz speaking during a presentation at the Max-Plank-Institute of Quantum Optics in Munich, and French-Swedish physicist Anne L'Huillier talking to journalists at Lund University, Sweden. The three scientists won the Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for studying how electrons zip around the atom in the tiniest fractions of seconds, a field that could one day lead to better electronics or disease diagnoses. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, Matthias Schrader and Ola Torkelsson/TT News Agency via AP)Trio earns Nobel Prize in physics for split-second glimpse of superfast spinning world of electrons

Mats Malm, permanent secretary of the academy, reached Fosse by telephone to inform him of the win. He said the writer was driving in the countryside and promised to drive home carefully.

Fosse is the fourth Norwegian writer to get the Nobel. Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson got it in 1903, Knut Hamsun was awarded it in 1920 and Sigrid Undset in 1928.

His work “A New Name: Septology VI-VII” — described by Olsson as Fosse’s “magnum opus” — was a finalist for the International Booker Prize in 2022.

The Nobel Prizes carry a cash award of 11 million Swedish kronor ($1 million) from a bequest left by their creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel. Winners also receive an 18-carat gold medal and diploma at the award ceremonies in December.

Last year, French author Annie Ernaux won the prize for what the prize-giving Swedish Academy called “the courage and clinical acuity” of books rooted in her small-town background in the Normandy region of northwest France.

Ernaux was just the 17th woman among the 119 Nobel literature laureates. The literature prize has long faced criticism that it is too focused on European and North American writers, as well as too male-dominated.

In 2018, the award was postponed after sex abuse allegations rocked the Swedish Academy, which names the Nobel literature committee, and sparked an exodus of members. The academy revamped itself but faced more criticism for giving the 2019 award to Austria’s Peter Handke, who has been called an apologist for Serbian war crimes.

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Corder reported from The Hague, Netherlands, Lawless from London. Associated Press writer Jan M. Olsen contributed from Copenhagen.


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