Jo Nesbø, who’s enjoyed huge international success for his crime novels, was named this year’s ‘Peer Gynt’ by the Members of Parliament who vote on the annual winner. The prize goes to the person or persons believed to have done the most to make Norway better known abroad.
Last year’s winners were Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and skiing queen Marit Bjørgen, so Nesbø is in good company. Other winners have included football star Ole Gunnar Solskjær, former prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, industrialist Kjell Inge Røkke and explorer Thor Heyerdahl.
The prize has been awarded by the foundation Stiftelsen Peer Gynt for 43 years and is considered one of the most prestigious in Norway. Winners, chosen by MPs on behalf of the foundation, must have distinguished themselves in a positive manner at home as well as making Norway proud overseas.
The first winner was Einar Gerhardsen, the longtime prime minister who was viewed as a national father figure for his reconstruction efforts after the war. Winners make up “a very exclusive group of people who all have been wonderful role models,” said Berit Brørby, leader of the foundation’s nominations committee.
Nesbø was nominated for helping put Norway on the literary map for his books that have been translated into 40 languages and sold around the world. He’s considered one of Europe’s best authors and among the most commercially successful, with 6 million of his popular and highly acclaimed crime novels sold worldwide and attracting rave reviews from book critics. Some have also been made into films, with proceeds from the film version of Hodejegerne (The Headhunters) going into a foundation that aims to help children in developing countries learn to read and write.
Nesbø also has been a successful musician in Norway, has written children’s books and worked in the securities industry. The multi-talented author said he was “very glad and honoured to receive the prize as the year’s Peer Gynt,” named for the lead character in the famous play with the same name that was written by Norwegian literary giant Henrik Ibsen.
The prize will be awarded, as usual, during the annual outdoor performances of Peer Gynt in Gålå on August 2.