Jon Fosse, a Norwegian playwright, receives the Nobel Prize in Literature


Thursday, the Swedish Academy awarded the Nobel Literature Prize to Norwegian playwright Jon Fosse, whose works are among the most frequently performed of any contemporary European playwright.

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

His writing is characterized more by form than by substance, with what is not said often being more revealing than what is.

Often compared to Samuel Beckett, Fosse’s work is minimalistic, reliant on simple language and rhythm, melody, and silence to convey its message.

“Boathouse” (1989), which was well-received by critics, and “Melancholy” I and II (1995-1996) are among his significant works.

Fosse, 64, had been the subject of extensive Nobel speculation for years.

The jury stated, “His vast oeuvre, written in Norwegian Nynorsk (one of Norway’s written languages) and spanning a variety of genres, includes a wealth of plays, novels, poetry collections, essays, children’s books, and translations.”

While he is currently one of the world’s most performed playwrights, he is also gaining increasing recognition for his prose.

The Nobel Prize consists of a medal and 11 million Swedish kronor (approximately $1 million).

Last year’s recipient was French feminist icon Annie Ernaux, whose deceptively simple novels rely on her own class and gender experiences.

The Academy has long been criticized for selecting a disproportionate number of white Western male authors.

Since the devastating #MeToo scandal of 2018, the Swedish Academy has undertaken significant reforms, promising a more global and gender-equal literature prize.

Since the controversy, it has awarded three women and three men: Annie Ernaux, US poet Louise Gluck, and Poland’s Olga Tokarczuk; Austrian author Peter Handke, Tanzanian writer Abdullah Gurnah, and Fosse.

Fosse will receive the Nobel Prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf at a ceremony in Stockholm on December 10, the anniversary of physicist Alfred Nobel’s death in 1896.