Acclaimed author and playwright Jon Fosse has won the 2016 Willy Brandt award for his work to promote relations between Norway and Germany, the German Embassy in Oslo said in a press release on Friday.
Fosse’s work has been widely translated to German. He shared the prize with translator Julia Stöber, a professional translator and interpreter. Stöber was also credited with building bilateral relations through a Norwegian-German youth forum and other voluntary work.
The prize, named after German statesman Willy Brandt (1913-1992), is awarded by a foundation which carries his name. The foundation described Fosse as one of Europe’s most important contemporary authors.
“Jon Fosse excites his German audience with his literary works and more than 30 plays,” the embassy stated.
Willy Brandt was part of Germany’s labour movement between the world wars, and an active opponent to Hitler’s regime. He spent much of the 1930s in Norway, joining the labour party (Arbeiderpartiet) to agitate against Hitler and the Nazi expansion.
Brandt fled to Sweden during the occupation of Norway. He was given Norwegian citizenship, as the Nazi regime had stripped him of his German one. After the war, he was hailed as one of the most successful spokesmen in Sweden for Norway’s cause during the occupation. He subsequently pursued a career as a politician and diplomat in Germany, but often said he remained “tied to Norway with a thousand ribbons.”
The prize consists of a sculpture by Norwegian artist Nils Aas and a diploma. Fosse and Stöber will formally receive their award on December 8 during a ceremony in Norway’s Parliament (Stortinget), in the presence of Parliament president Olemic Thommesen and Carola Velt, head of Hamburg’s city council and chair of the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference.
Earlier winners of the Willy Brandt prize include former Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, singer Wenche Myhre, jazz musician Jan Garbarek, authors Jostein Gaarder and Ingvar Ambjørnsen, plus actor German TV actor Horst Tappert, famous for his detective character Derrick in a show which ran for 22 years in Norway.