The Norwegian Government honours Jon Fosse

On the occasion of Jon Fosse being awarded the 2023 Nobel Prize in Literature, the Norwegian Government is establishing a new, annual initiative in honour of the author – an annual Fosse lecture, which will be held alongside an event organised by the National Library of Norway, where a Fosse Scholarship will also be awarded. In this way, the Government wants to demonstrate how important Fosse’s literary works are, both for Norway and internationally.

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Jon Fosse. Photo: Agnete Brun

«This is the very first time that an author who writes in Nynorsk is being honoured in this way, and it is 95 years since a Norwegian author was last awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. This is a historic event, and Fosse will forever be written into literary history, both in Norway and beyond. The Norwegian Government wishes to honour the exceptional international position that Jon Fosse has achievedm,» says the Norwegian Minister of Culture and Equality, Lubna Jaffery.

The annual lecture will be given by an internationally renowned author, playwright, literature researcher or equivalent, who will be invited by the National Library of Norway, in consultation with Jon Fosse. A scholarship for a period of residence in Norway will also be awarded at this event, to a professional translator who translates Norwegian literature into other languages. The recipient of the scholarship will be selected by NORLA (Norwegian Literature Abroad) in consultation with the National Library of Norway.

Jon Fosse has been informed of this, and has made the following comment:
«I am very grateful that on the occasion of my being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, the Norwegian Government will establish an annual Fosse lecture, and will also establish a new scholarship for translators of Norwegian literature. The fact that this is being announced in the middle of Nobel Week makes it even more important both for me and for Norwegian literature.»

The National Library of Norway is the organiser of this event.

«The Fosse Lecture is intended to bring a bit of the world to Norway, and the Fosse Scholarship is intended to bring a bit of Norway out to the world,» comments National Librarian Aslak Sira Myhre.

«Fosse may live in the honorary residence of Grotten in the Palace Park, but he also has a home here at Solli plass,» Sira Myhre continues. «Below us, right here in this building, is everything he has written and published in and outside Norway. Here you will find everything that’s been written in newspapers and periodicals about him, as well as the Fosse Archive. The Fosse Lecture, when it is held here at the National Library, will be held literally on top of the entire Norwegian literary heritage, including the manuscripts of Ibsen, Undset and Bjørnson – and now Fosse.»

«The Fosse Lecture and the awarding of the Fosse Scholarship will be an annual event to highlight the significance of literature and drama. It will be a day in which thought and the intellect are placed at the centre of public discourse,» Sira Myhre concludes.

Aslak sira myhre og lubna jaffery på nasjonalbiblioteket ved privatarkivmateriale frå jon fosse foto gorm k. gaare nasjonalbiblioteket
Norway's National Librarian, Aslak Sira Myhre and Minister of Culture and Equality, Lubna Jaffery at the National Library of Norway, with material from Jon Fosse's private archives. Photo: Gorm K. Gaare / The National Library of Norway (Nasjonalbiblioteket).

NORLA To Name The Recipient of The New Fosse Scholarship

– Norwegian literature has been in a golden age for a long time, and the international demand is steadily increasing. The Norwegian written languages are small from an international perspective, but our literature reaches the whole world. It is well deserved that an author writing in Nynorsk now is being honored with the Nobel Prize in Literature, says Margit Walsø, Director of NORLA.

Jon Fosse’s works have been made available for readers and theatre audiences all over the world, thanks to around 50 translators. A recent count shows that his works have been translated to 44 languages – and counting.

This level of visibility wouldn’t have been achievable without the translators. As the author José Saramago once said: «Writers make national literature, while translators make universal literature».
Or, as Chair of The Norwegian Association of Literary Translators, Hilde Lyng, recently wrote in a comment in the daily Aftenposten: «Without the translators, Fosse would have been a peripheral author, only read by especially interested Scandinavians and Italian students obsessed with Black Metal.»

In NORLA, we are proud that Jon Fosse, and by extension the Nynorsk written language, has received the Nobel Prize in Literature. We are grateful that the government, in relation to the prize, recognizes the important, challenging and immeasurable work done by translators, and how they disseminate Norwegian literature to readers across the world.

NORLA is very much looking forward to contributing to grant the new Fosse Scholarship every year, and to honor yet another skilled and hard working translator. There are definitely many candidates to choose from!

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Margit Walsø, Director of NORLA. Photo: Fartein Rudjord.

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