Other Name

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UPC: 9781945492402
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Authors: by Jon Fosse (Author), Damion Searls (Translator)
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  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Transit Books (April 4, 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 340 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1945492406
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1945492402

New York Times Editors' Choice
Longlisted for the 2020 International Booker Prize

“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

"Fosse’s portrait of intersecting lives is that rare metaphysical novel that readers will find compulsively readable.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

The Other Name follows the lives of two men living close to each other on the west coast of Norway. The year is coming to a close and Asle, an aging painter and widower, is reminiscing about his life. He lives alone, his only friends being his neighbor, Åsleik, a bachelor and traditional Norwegian fisherman-farmer, and Beyer, a gallerist who lives in Bjørgvin, a couple hours’ drive south of Dylgja, where he lives. There, in Bjørgvin, lives another Asle, also a painter. He and the narrator are doppelgangers—two versions of the same person, two versions of the same life.

Written in hypnotic prose that shifts between the first and third person, The Other Name calls into question concrete notions around subjectivity and the self. What makes us who we are? And why do we lead one life and not another? Through flashbacks, Fosse deftly explores the convergences and divergences in the lives of both Asles, slowly building towards a decisive encounter between them both. A writer at the zenith of his career, with The Other Name, the first two volumes in his Septology, Fosse presents us with an indelible and poignant exploration of the human condition that will endure as his masterpiece.


“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, The New 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

"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

“The first two installments of Fosse’s wondrous septology sustain a riveting stream of consciousness in a single rhythmic sentence... Fosse’s portrait of intersecting lives is that rare metaphysical novel that readers will find compulsively readable.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"Fosse is often mentioned as a leading contender for the Nobel Prize in literature. The present book has a fittingly Joycean sweep . . . that establishes him as a contender."—Kirkus Reviews, 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

Praise for Jon Fosse

“The Beckett of the twenty-first century.”—Le Monde

“Jon Fosse is less well-known in America than some other Norwegian novelists, but revered in Norway—winner of every prize, a leading Nobel contender. I think of the four elder statesmen of Norwegian letters as a bit like the Beatles: Per Petterson is the solid, always dependable Ringo; Dag Solstad is John, the experimentalist, the ideas man; Karl Ove Knausgaard is Paul, the cute one; and Fosse is George, the quiet one, mystical, spiritual, probably the best craftsman of them all . . . His writing is pure poetry.”—The Paris Review, from an essay by the translator

“Fosse has been compared to Ibsen and to Beckett, and it is easy to see his work as Ibsen stripped down to its emotional essentials. But it is much more. For one thing, it has a fierce poetic simplicity.”—The New York Times

“With its heavy silences and splintered dialogue, his work has reminded some of Beckett, others of Pinter.”—The Guardian

“Fosse’s prose . . . builds out of an ambiguity and sparseness and moves with a slow poetic intensity . . . The collection has all the hallmarks of Fosse’s signature brooding manner where lyrical precision is used to paint unmoored psyches. An accumulation of moments when our essential emotions come into conflict with experience, Scenes from a Childhood is a welcome—if overdue—introduction to a singular literary voice.”—Tank

“Fosse writes about the complexity and danger of the bleak Norwegian countryside as well as he writes about the passage of time through a life. In choosing to mostly focus on pieces about childhood, Searls has been able to show an impressive side to Fosse, because—in my experience at least—writing engaging prose about childhood trips up many otherwise competent writers . . . Fosse understands that a child’s mind is not merely the mind of an ignorant adult, it is a different form of consciousness entirely: more curious, more optimistic, less scared . . . There are portraits of great happiness, great pleasure and great joy in Scenes From A Childhood.”—Berfrois

“Fosse’s vignettes beautifully reclaim the revelations and deceptions of growing up, the punishments both arbitrary and well-earned, the lust for freedom expressed through the smallest transgressions and pettiest rebellions, the incompetence, the cluelessness, the joy and the pain, all of it twice-distilled in its clarity and intensity.”—Asymptote

“Fosse’s style—straightforward, unembellished, but ranging from the concisely spelled out to the more rambling stream-of-(troubled-)consciousness—is crisp and beautifully polished.’—Complete Review

“Undoubtedly one of the world’s most important and versatile literary voices.”—Irish Examiner“He has a surgeon’s ability to use the scalpel and to cut into the most prosaic, everyday happenings, to tear loose fragments from life, to place them under the microscope and examine them minutely, in order to present them afterward . . . sometimes so endlessly desolate, dark, and fearful that Kafka himself would have been frightened.”—Aftenposten

About the Author

Damion Searls is a translator from German, Norwegian, French, and Dutch and a writer in English. He has translated many classic modern writers, including Proust, Rilke, Nietzsche, Walser, Ingeborg Bachmann, Alfred Döblin, Jon Fosse, Elfriede Jelinek, and Nescio.

Jon Fosse is one of Norway’s most celebrated authors and playwrights. He was born in 1959 on the west coast of Norway and is the recipient of countless prestigious prizes, both in his native Norway and abroad. Since his 1983 fiction debut, Raudt, svart [Red, Black], Fosse has written prose, poetry, essays, short stories, children’s books, and over forty plays, with more than a thousand productions performed and translations into fifty languages.