Norwegian writer Jon Fosse won the Nobel Prize in literature on Thursday, for plays and prose that “give voice to the unsayable,” according to the Swedish Academy.
One of his country’s most-performed dramatists, Fosse, 64, has written some 40 plays as well as novels, short stories, children’s books, poetry and essays.
Anders Olsson, chairman of the Nobel literature committee, said Fosse’s work is rooted “in the language and nature of his Norwegian background.”
Mats Malm, permanent secretary of the academy who announced the prize, 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.
The Associated Press