BY Marko Gluhaich in Opinion | 06 NOV 23

Editor’s Picks: Nobel-Prize Winning Literature

Highlights include the latest release from Jon Fosse, an Annie Ernaux classic and Carl Theodor Dreyer’s final art-house drama

BY Marko Gluhaich in Opinion | 06 NOV 23

Frieze Editor’s Picks is a fortnightly column in which a frieze editor shares their recommendations for what to watch, read and listen to.

Jon Fosse, A Shining (2023)

My entry point to Fosse was his hypnotic, haunting novella Aliss at the Fire (2004), whose narrator Signe remembers the winter evening her husband went missing at the fjord below their home. I do not recommend reading it on a flight, as I did, as Fosse’s circuitous prose style so precisely affects the claustrophobia of Nordic November darkness.

Jon Fosse portrait
Jon Fosse, October 2023. Courtesy: Getty Images; photograph: Helge Skodvin

Excited by this writer – whose style blends those of the ‘Penelope’ episode of James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922), Samuel Beckett’s Watt (1953) and Thomas Bernhard’s oeuvre – I set off on his heftier Septology (2022), a seven-part semi-autobiographical work about an aging painter and the blurred boundaries between his life and those of his few acquaintances. The book affirms Fosse’s status as the great writer of uncertainty since Beckett.

A Shining, book cover
Jon Fosse, A Shining, 2023, book cover. Courtesy: Fitzcarraldo Editions

So, I’m very much looking forward to A Shining (2023), his latest about a man lost in a forest at night. Like Septology, it promises to explore the same themes of death, family history and the nature of God. The translation process was reportedly expedited per the recent announcement of his Nobel Prize in Literature. Which brings me to my next pick…

Annie Ernaux, A Man’s Place (1983)

Ernaux writes this novella as she does her letters to her father: in a ‘neutral style’, so as to rid language of any classist distinction. A Man’s Place begins with his death; Ernaux unfurls his life from there. It’s a book about her father – his upbringing, expectations, financial struggles – but also a taut grappling with the post-war French proletariat and a coming to terms with the origins of her language (an especially writerly crisis).

Annie Ernaux attends 2022 Nobel Prize banquet
Annie Ernaux attends Nobel Prize Banquet, December 2022. Courtesy: Getty Images; photograph: Pascal Le Segretain

Carl Theodor Dreyer, Gertrud (1964)

Dreyer’s final film focuses on the eponymous young protagonist as she mourns lost love and confronts her elder statesman husband. I at last got around to watching it, long an admirer of Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) and Ordet (1955).

Carl Theodor Dreyer, Gertrud
Carl Theodor Dreyer, Gertrud, 1964, film still

His contemplative shots give space to the introspective conversations between Gertrud and her various interlocutors, thereby affording dialogue the same, rare weight as, say, the tormented expressions of Renée Jeanne Falconetti in Joan of Arc.

Main image: Bookshelves. Courtesy: Getty Images; photograph: David Madison

Marko Gluhaich is associate editor of frieze. He lives in New York, USA.