cover image A New Name: Septology VI–VII

A New Name: Septology VI–VII

Jon Fosse, trans. from the Norwegian by Damion Searls. Transit, $17.95 trade paper (220p) ISBN 978-1-945492-57-0

In the beautiful and unsettling final volume of Fosse’s Septology (after I Is Another), the author increasingly complicates the reader’s understanding of a painter named Asle. As in previous volumes, the perspective switches between Asle’s first-person narration and a close third, with the arc here consisting of Asle’s reminiscences about love and church as he wraps up some business with his gallery so he can join his friend Åsleik and Åsleik’s sister Guro for Christmas. With the two viewpoints, Fosse continues to toy with the suggestion that these are two separate men named Asle who have led almost identical lives, with minor differences. Guro is also twinned—one version has her living in town, another in the country, but in both, the character’s looks and disposition are similar. This haunting tale holds an intriguing puzzle at its heart: can existence only be understood as a kind of paradox? Fosse infuses the mystery with Asle’s frequent paraphrasing of the German Catholic theologian Meister Eckhart (“God becomes God in the soul and the soul becomes the soul in God”), bringing insight to questions of love, art, and faith. This offers a stirring exploration of life and identity. Agent: Gina Winje, Gina Winje Agency. (Mar.)