2022 International Booker Prize, Finalist 2022 National Book Award, Finalist 2022 National Book Critics Circle Award, Finalist New York TimesEditors’ Choice Named a Best Book of the Year by The New Yorker and Bookforum
What makes us who we are? And why do we lead one life and not another? Asle, an ageing painter and widower who lives alone on the southwest coast of Norway, is reminiscing about his life. 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 about death, love, light and shadow, faith and hopelessness. The three volumes of Jon Fosse's Septology—The Other Name, I is Another, and A New Name—collected in for the first time in this limited hardcover edition, are a transcendent exploration of the human condition, and a radically other reading experience—incantatory, hypnotic, and utterly unique.
Jon Fosse is one of Norway's most important contemporary writers, since his 1983 fiction debut he has published prose, poetry and over forty plays. Fosse has been awarded a lifetime stipend by the Norwegian government among countless other accolades, and is one of the most performed living playwrights today. He was the 2023 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Damion Searls is a writer in English and translator of German, French, Dutch, and Norwegian. His translations include work by Ingeborg Bachmann, Thomas Bernhard, Peter Handke, Christa Wolf; his translation of Hans Keilson's Comedy in a Minor Key was a New York Times Notable Book of 2010 and a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist in Fiction.
“Septology is the only novel I have read that has made me believe in the reality of the divine, as the fourteenth-century theologian Meister Eckhart, whom Fosse has read intently, describes it: 'It is in darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow, then this light is nearest of all to us.' None of the comparisons to other writers seem right. Bernhard? Too aggressive. Beckett? Too controlling. Ibsen? 'He is the most destructive writer I know,' Fosse claims. 'I feel that there’s a kind of—I don’t know if it’s a good English word—but a kind of reconciliation in my writing. Or, to use the Catholic or Christian word, peace.’“—Merve Emre, The New Yorker
“An extraordinary seven-novel sequence about an old man’s recursive reckoning with the braided realities of God, art, identity, family life and human life itself… The books feel like the culminating project of an already major career.”—Randy Boyagoda, The New York Times
"With Septology, Fosse has found a new approach to writing fiction, different from what he has written before and—it is strange to say, as the novel enters its fifth century—different from what has been written before. Septology feels new."—Wyatt Mason, Harper's
“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.” —Ruth Margalit, TheNew York Review of Books
“In The Other Name's rhythmic accumulation of words, [there is] something incantatory and self-annihilating—something that feels almost holy.”—Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
“It ties 2666 by Roberto Bolaño as my favorite book from the 21st century… What I read was nothing less than a desperate prayer made radiant by sudden spikes of ecstatic beauty.”—Lauren Groff, Literary Hub
“The Other Name trembles with the beauty, doubt, and gnostic weariness of great religious fiction. In Fosse’s hands, God is a difficult, pungent, overwhelmingly aesthetic force, ‘the invisible inside the visible.’”—Dustin Illingworth, The Nation
"Fosse’s portrait of intersecting lives is that rare metaphysical novel that readers will find compulsively readable.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Fosse’s fusing of the commonplace and the existential, together with his dramatic forays into the past, make for a relentlessly consuming work: already Septology feels momentous.”—The Guardian
"Its striking characters and whiplash prose make for compulsive reading, engrossing from the start, unforgettable at the end."—World Literature Today
“Fosse has written a strange mystical moebius strip of a novel, in which an artist struggles with faith and loneliness, and watches himself, or versions of himself, fall away into the lower depths. The social world seems distant and foggy in this profound, existential narrative, which is only the first part of what promises to be a major work of Scandinavian fiction.” —Hari Kunzru, author of White Tears
“Jon Fosse is a major European writer.”—Karl Ove Knausgaard, author of My Struggle