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From Farm Boy to Nobel Laureate: The Rise of Jón Fosse, Norway’s Literary Prodigy

  The Swedish Academy announced in Stockholm on October 5 that the 2023 Nobel Prize in Literature will be won by Norwegian writer Jorn Fosse. Who is John Fother? In his own words, he is introduced as “a weirdo from western Norway and the Norwegian countryside.” Fosse has written extensively in New Norse across a variety of genres, including plays, novels, poetry, essays, children’s books and translations. Fosse was driving in the Norwegian countryside when he learned of his win over the phone.
  Fosse was born in 1959 in Haugesund, a small town south of the cultural city of Bergen on the west coast of Norway. He grew up on a small farm and as a young boy loved loud music and played guitar in a rock band. After graduating from the University of Bergen, he worked as a journalist and editor, taught at a writing academy, and spent most of the rest of his life as a full-time writer.
  In 1983, Fother’s debut novel “Red, Black” was published. In 1994, his debut drama “Somebody’s Coming” was staged, and he gradually became famous around the world as a playwright. His works have been translated into many languages, performed frequently around the world, and won many awards. In recent years, his writing focus has shifted to prose. In 2004, Fosse’s play “Girl on the Sofa” was performed in China. Currently, only two of his works have been published in Chinese translation, “Someone Is Coming” and “Autumn Dream”, which were released by Shanghai Translation Publishing House in 2014 and 2016 respectively. The two drama anthologies include a total of 9 of his works.
  Whether it is an early novel or a later drama, most of the characters in Fother’s works do not have exact names, but are only referred to as “he”, “she”, “man” and “girl”. “I think names can be restrictive. Once you mention a name, whether it’s a first or last name, you’re revealing a lot about the character, and the character becomes just a reference to his or her name. generation.” He answered this way during the creative discussion.
  Zou Lulu, the translator of Fosse’s drama collection “Somebody’s Coming”, is one of the earliest scholars in China to study Fosse. In an article on Fosse’s dramatic works, she called Fosse a playwright from “the end of the world.” Indeed. Norway is located in the western part of the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Its northern territory extends into the Arctic Circle and is the northernmost country in the world. The southernmost point of Norway is further north than the northernmost point of China.
  Fosse is also the fourth Norwegian writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. In the early 20th century, Norwegian writers won the Nobel Prize for Literature three times. In the 1990s, Jostan Judd’s “Sophie’s World” became a global bestseller. In 2019, Norway became the guest country of the Frankfurt Book Fair, the world’s largest book fair, and translated approximately 200 Norwegian works into German. In addition, Norway will become the guest country of honor at the Leipzig Book Fair in 2025, which highlights the growing influence of Norwegian literature.
  Why is Norway able to produce so many outstanding literary works? First of all, this is related to the fact that Norwegians generally have high literary literacy. Norwegians are proud of two specialties: winter sports and literature. Norway has a population of only over 5.4 million, but has more than 400 publishing houses and more than 500 bookstores. According to statistics, on average, each Norwegian reads 15 books a year. In an interview with the media, Meyer, the director of the National Library of Norway, said that although the number of library visitors in various countries around the world has decreased, the use of libraries in Norway is still increasing.

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