Prizes galore and Norwegians win big

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Norwegians have won some major prizes this week for their work within literature and even the kitchen. Among the most prestigious was the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize for 2012, which went to Norwegian author Merethe Lindstrøm.

Norwegian author Merethe Lindstrøm has won the Nordic Council's Literature Prize for 2012. PHOTO: Nordisk Råd

Lindstrøm, born in Bergen in 1963, won for her “gentle, precise and thoughtful prose” in her novel Dager i stillhetens historie (Days in the History of Silence). The book tells the story of “how a dramatic past slowly breaks into an elderly woman’s life and conscence,” wrote the jury for Nordisk Råd (The Nordic Council).

The prize is considered one of the most prestigious in the Nordic countries and has only been won by 10 Norwegians in the past 40 years. Previous winners include some of the biggest names in Norwegian literature including Per Petterson, Lars Saabye Christensen, Dag Solstad and Tarjei Vesaas.

Lindstrøm called the prize “an enormous recognition and a great honor.” She said she hadn’t expected to win such a prize and indeed, most of the nominees this year weren’t big names behind best-sellers. Also included among Norway’s candidates was the Norwegian-Sami author Rawdna Carita Eira, for her poetry collection on reindeer. All the Nordic countries including the Sami area, Åland, Grøndland and the Færø Islands nominate their best in addition to Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway.

This lodge on an island in Austvoll has produced the best cook in Europe. PHOTO: Bekkjarvik Gjestgiveri

Meanwhile, a Norwegian chef from an historic lodge on an island outside Bergen was effectively named the best cook in Europe this week, when he won the Bocuse dÓr Europe competition in Brussels.

Ørjan Johannessen of the small but rather exclusive Bekkjarvik Gjestgiveri in Austevoll won prize after five tough hours during which he needed to present one fish dish and one meat dish to 14 persons. Johannessen, age 26, was up against cooks from 20 different countries, with the best 12 going on to the Bocuse dÓr Lyon in January, considered the world championships in cooking. He hopes to win that as well.

Also in France: Norwegian presidential candidate Eva Joly won a major prize herself: the Sofie Prize backed by Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder who wrote the international bestseller on philosophy Sofie’s World. Joly, best known for uncovering and prosecuting corporate corruption at French oil company Elf Aquitaine, won the award for her ongoing campaign against greed.

“It’s wonderful that the Sofie Foundation sees the link between sustainable development and corruption,” Joly told news bureau NTB. Gaarder said he was happy to see the prize also recognize Joly’s fight against both corruption and tax evasion and her efforts to put the spotlight on poverty and hunger, also in Europe.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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