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Jon Fosse celebrates the significance of reading

Posted April. 25, 2024 07:57,   

Updated April. 25, 2024 07:57


Norwegian writer Jon Fosse, 65, who won last year's Nobel Prize in Literature, emphasized the significance of reading during a video conference with Korean readers at the Gwanghwamun Kyobo Building in Seoul, on Tuesday, World Book and Copyright Day. While reading a book is optional, Fosse said, he believes that all great literary works can subtly alter our perception of life and enhance our understanding of it. "If you engage with books, you will experience life more deeply," he remarked.

The gathering was organized as part of the '2024 Reading Jon Fosse' event, jointly hosted by the Daesan Cultural Foundation, Kyobo Books, and the Embassy of Norway in Korea. Over 200 attendees, comprising avid readers, participated in the event. Literary critic Jeong Yeo-ul acted as the moderator, posing questions from the audience to Fosse, who provided insightful responses during the hour-long session.

Born in 1959 in the Norwegian coastal town of Haugesund, Fosse debuted in 1983 with the novel "Red, Black." His literary works have often centered around the theme of death, exemplified by "Morning and Evening" (2000), which narrates the life and approaching death of an ordinary fisherman set against the backdrop of a lonely and desolate fjord. "Death holds the same significance for everyone. Although we are uncertain about what happens after death, we are certain that it will come to us one day," the Nobel laureate said. “The boundary between the living and the dead is not very distant.”

Fosse has demonstrated prolific writing and versatility across various literary genres, encompassing plays, novels, poetry, essays, and fairy tales. His plays, in particular, have enjoyed substantial global acclaim, with over 900 performances worldwide, establishing him as the second most performed Norwegian playwright after Henrik Ibsen, who is renowned for "A Doll's House." "Initially, I wrote plays for a living, but I believe that engaging in various genres makes writing easier," Fosse said, reflecting on his creative journey. He emphasized the synergistic relationship between his different forms of expression‎. "When I work on plays, I draw from my experiences in novels and poetry, amalgamating them to create a distinct literary language,” Fosse said.

When asked about his use of distinctive rhymes, Fosse responded, “Writing is inherently musical to me.” When Jeong expressed that she feels solace in his literature, Fosse replied with a childlike smile, stating, "I don't consider my works particularly entertaining, but I'm immensely pleased that my books can provide comfort to readers."

이호재 기자 hoho@donga.com