Jon Fosse delivers both a transcendent exploration of the human condition and a radically ‘other’ reading experience - incantatory, hypnotic, and utterly unique. Translated by Damion Searls.

Asle is an ageing painter who lives alone on the coast of Norway. His only friends are his neighbour, Åsleik, a traditional fisherman-farmer, and Beyer, a gallerist who lives in the city. There, in Bjørgvin, lives another Asle, also a painter but lonely and consumed by alcohol. Asle and Asle are doppelgängers - two versions of the same person, two versions of the same life, both grappling with existential questions. Written in melodious and hypnotic ‘slow prose’, this is the final instalment of Fosse’s Septology, the major prose work by ‘the Beckett of the twenty-first century’ (Le Monde).


The 2022 International Booker Prize
Published by
Fitzcarraldo Editions
Publication date
Jon Fosse

Jon Fosse

About the Author

Jon Fosse has been nominated for the International Booker Prize twice, in 2020 and 2022. He was born in 1959 on the west coast of Norway and is the recipient of countless prestigious prizes, both in his native country and abroad.
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Damion Searls - Photo credit: Beowulf Sheehan

Damion Searls

About the Translator

Damion Searls is a translator from German, Norwegian, French and Dutch - and a writer in English.
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Jon Fosse on A New Name: Septology VI-VII

Septology is by far the longest text I have ever written. I spent five years writing the novel, which has an architecture built of seven parts or books. In most countries they are published in three volumes. I hope and think they can be read alone, especially I-II, The Other Name, longlisted for the International Booker Prize in 2020, and VI-VII, A New Name. But of course, this novel is also part of the whole that is Septology, and that in a way sums up a lot of what I have written earlier – motives from both earlier novels and plays are somehow re-written there – but seen in a different light. 

‘Perhaps the reason why I wrote the novel was that I felt I had something crucial to say and that it was, so to speak, my duty to say. I cannot say what it is, only the novel can, but it has to do with the mysticism of ordinary life, so it is not wrong to describe the novel as a kind of ‘mystic realism’.

‘I am thankful that I managed to write this novel, and to be honest, I don’t think I could have managed to write it now.’

Read the full interview here.

What the judges said

A New Name, the final movement in Jon Fosse’s monumental Septology, draws together art, death, and the idea of God with a vast, gentle grace. Damion Searls’ translation unfurls Fosse’s slow sentence with immense precision and beauty.’

What the critics said

Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal

‘Mr. Fosse writes with no full stops, each unending sentence flowing imperceptibly between Asle’s memories and present actions and often incorporating his incantations of Latin prayers. The effect can be both mesmerizing and dulling, but there are moments when it reaches a pitch of extraordinary catharsis. Amidst a field of writers intrigued by the potential of religion, Mr. Fosse has created something of a different order: a work of art that itself approximates a religious experience.’

Publisher’s Weekly

‘This haunting tale holds an intriguing puzzle at its heart: can existence only be understood as a kind of paradox? Fosse infuses the mystery with Asle’s frequent paraphrasing of the German Catholic theologian Meister Eckhart, bringing insight to questions of love, art, and faith. This offers a stirring exploration of life and identity.’

Ruth Margalit, New York Review of Books

‘A deeply moving experience. At times while reading the first two books of Septology, I walked around in a fugue-like state, wondering what it was that I was reading, exactly. A parable? A gospel? A novel bereft of the usual markings of plot, time, and character? The answer appeared to be all of the above, but although I usually balk at anything mystical, the effect was haunting and cumulative. […] I hesitate to compare the experience of reading these works to the act of meditation. But that is the closest I can come to describing how something in the critical self is shed in the process of reading Fosse, only to be replaced by something more primal. A mood. An atmosphere. The sound of words moving on a page.’

Other nominated books by Jon Fosse

The Other Name: Septology I - II

Other nominated books by Damion Searls

The Other Name: Septology I - II