Jon Fosse. 2005. Das ist Alise. Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag. Hamburg.
As I study scandinavian literature it wasn’t very hard for me to get some material to get started with my project. I still had (and have) a huge amount of books by scandinavian authors, so I already had something to choose from at home. Especially Fosse is meeting a lot of the criterias I put up. He is a born norwegian and he describes the people as much as he describes the fjord-landscape.
Jon Fosse was born in Haugesund, Norway, in 1959 and is now living in Bergen, Norway. Nowadays he is a writer of almost every sort of writing there is, e.g. novels, plays, poetry and short stories. His first novel, Raudt, svart (Red, black) came out 1983 and since then he received many prices for his outstanding work. He is writing in Nynorsk, one of Norway’s official languages. If you want to read more on Jon Fosse, you might consider the Wikipedia-page.
Begin one of the most important authors Norway has to offer it was no question to read one of Fosse’s books. The particular one I picked is about a woman, Signe, who stands inside her house, waiting for her husband Asle to come back from his boat tour on the fjord. But Asle never returns, just like his grandfather disappeared many years before.
Even though not much happens in this novel, I could barely stop reading. Fosse manages to keep the reader going on just by the way he writes. I don’t know exactly how he is doing it, but it works – for me at least. He captures the insecurities the main characters are going through pretty well. Will he come back? He sure will, won’t he? But shouldn’t he have been back hours ago?
This book is more or less written in a stream of conciousness, but not only from the perspective of one character, but different ones. We follow Signe’s fear her husband might not come back and then we follow his thoughts on that he should actually take the boat out to the fjord even though he promised not to. At the beach he sees his young greatgrandmother (or grandmother?) with his grandfather who there was still a child. So the story goes on. As you see, it’s confusing and it had me confused as well but yet I really enjoyed it.
What it actually means for Nrorway? Well, I don’t know much about their mentality or traditions, but I can say that the mood is pretty dark, just as the long november nights, when this story is taking place, in Scandinavia are.
Sorry for this short review by the way. It’s a first. In English. And the book had me slightly confused. 🙂