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Booker International Longlist 2022 – A New Name Septology VI-VII

A New Name

A New Name: Septology VI-VII by Jon Fosse Translated by Damion Searls

Book 10

Reviewed by Tracy and Rachel

Synopsis from Booker Prize website: Jon Fosse delivers both a transcendent exploration of the human condition and a radically ‘other’ reading experience – incantatory, hypnotic, and utterly unique. Translated by Damion Searls.

Asle is an ageing painter who lives alone on the coast of Norway. His only friends are his neighbour, Åsleik, a traditional fisherman-farmer, and Beyer, a gallerist who lives in the city. There, in Bjørgvin, lives another Asle, also a painter but lonely and consumed by alcohol. Asle and Asle are doppelgängers – two versions of the same person, two versions of the same life, both grappling with existential questions. Written in melodious and hypnotic ‘slow prose’, this is the final instalment of Fosse’s Septology, the major prose work by ‘the Beckett of the twenty-first century’ (Le Monde).

Rachel’s Thoughts:  I struggle with stream-of-consciousness novels – especially where the thoughts run in circles and free flow of the writing make it tricky to follow. So this was always going to be a challenge.

An ageing painter, Asle, still grieving for his wife Ales, concerned about his friend/doppelgänger/namesake in hospital, thinking about last night’s fish dinner with Åsleik, reminiscing on life as a young painter, ruminating on Catholicism and the nature of God and giving up painting and… You can probably work out whether this is something you’d enjoy – there is a lot of love for this author out there!

I’m sure I’d have got more from it if I wasn’t reading to a deadline, and had been prepared to put the work in – this is parts 6 and 7 of the Septology, and I haven’t read parts 1-5. For me, though, two parts is more than enough! By far the most arduous 240 pages of the longlist.

Writing quality: 3/5
Originality: 3/5
Character development: 3/4
Plot development: 2/4
Overall enjoyment: 0/2
Total: 11/20

Tracy’s Thoughts: I have read so many glorious reviews for this book. It makes me wonder what I just read, because I really struggled with this one.

It is written in the stream of consciousness style, for starters, and I have a love/hate relationship with that style. So far, the only author who has nailed it is Proust.

I also had a very hard time connecting with the characters- I’m part Norwegian, but that’s where the similarities end, I think.

The good: the writing is vivid and descriptive, with beautiful sentences. I really wish I could have loved this book.

Perhaps it’s just me, and I need to revisit this septology when I’m in a different mood.

Writing quality: 4/5
Originality: 4/5
Character development: 2/4
Plot development: 2/4
Overall enjoyment: ½
Total: 13/20

Rankings
Elena Knows 18.25
Books of Jacob 18.25
Cursed Bunny17.17
Heaven 16.5
Happy Stories, Mostly 16
Phenotypes 16
The Book of Mother 16
Paradais 14.75
Septology 12
After the Sun 11.33

Have you read this one? Let us know your thoughts

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