Norwegian playwright Jon Fosse wins Nobel literature prize

The Norwegian playwright Jon Fosse, whose works are among the most often performed of any contemporary playwright in Europe, received the Nobel literature prize on Thursday from the Swedish Academy.

He was honoured “for his innovative plays and prose which give voice to the unsayable,” the Swedish Academy said.

In his work, form is more important than content, and what is left unsaid is frequently more telling than what is.

Fosse’s work is minimalistic, focused on straightforward language that conveys its message through rhythm, harmony, and stillness. It is frequently compared to Samuel Beckett.

He is most known for his main works, “Boathouse” (1989), which garnered favorable reviews from critics, and “Melancholy” I and II (1995-1996).

Fosse, 64, had featured widely in Nobel speculation for several years.

“His immense oeuvre written in Norwegian Nynorsk (one of Norway’s written forms of languages) and spanning a variety of genres consists of a wealth of plays, novels, poetry collections, essays, children’s books and translations”, the jury said.

“While he is today one of the most widely performed playwrights in the world, he has also become increasingly recognised for his prose.”

A medal and an award of 11 million Swedish kronor ($1 million) are included with the Nobel Prize.

The award was given to French feminist hero Annie Ernaux last year for her deceptively straightforward novels that drew on her own experiences with class and gender.

The Academy has long come under fire for selecting too many works by Western, white male authors.

The Swedish Academy has undergone major reforms since a devastating #MeToo scandal in 2018, vowing a more global and gender-equal literature prize.

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