Philip Hensher

Why did Jon Fosse win the Nobel Prize for literature? It’s baffling.

Mystic visions are buried in numbingly tedious scenarios, making the Norwegian writer’s ‘experimental’ works appear exhaustingly jejune

[Alamy/Staffan Lowstedt/SvD/TT]

The Nobel Prize for Literature this year was awarded to the Norwegian novelist and playwright Jon Fosse (pictured). He has long been admired by anyone in the literary world keen to advertise their seriousness. The Canadian critic Randy Boyagoda, writing of Fosse’s Septology in the New York Times, said that he’d ‘come into awe and reverence myself for idiosyncratic forms of immense metaphysical fortitude’.

The technique is to bury statements of mystic vision or horror in piles of mostly tiny and uninteresting events

Fosse is published in Britain by Fitzcarraldo Editions, that elegant firm bringing all sorts of high-minded writers to our...

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