cover image The Other Name: Septology I–II

The Other Name: Septology I–II

Jon Fosse, trans. from the Norwegian by Damion Searls. Transit, $17.95 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-945492-40-2

The first two installments of Fosse’s wondrous septology (after Morning and Evening) sustain a riveting stream of consciousness in a single rhythmic sentence. A graying painter named Asle drives back and forth from the remote Norwegian seaside town of Dylgja to Bjørgvin, where a gallery shows his work. As he begins to drive out of Bjørgvin, he worries about another painter, also named Asle, whom he regrets not visiting there. He stops the car and walks through a snowy playground; observing a couple, he darkly desires to “paint them away” so that the “picture will disappear... and the uneasiness inside me will stop.” Along with worry and unease, Asle is haunted by memories of the childhood deaths of a neighbor boy and Asle’s sister. While he wanders in the snow, a woman recognizes him and invites him back to her house; he claims not to know her, and readers will understand she has mistaken him for the other Asle. Fosse’s recursive narrative has echoes of such literary contemporaries as Ben Lerner and Karl Ove Knausgaard, while his deep focus on minutiae calls to mind Nathalie Sarraute. Fosse’s portrait of intersecting lives is that rare metaphysical novel that readers will find compulsively readable. (Apr.)