Fosse, 64, had featured widely in Nobel speculation for several years
Fosse, 64, had featured widely in Nobel speculation for several years AFP

The Swedish Academy on Thursday awarded the Nobel literature prize to Norwegian playwright Jon Fosse, whose plays are among the most widely staged of any contemporary playwright in Europe.

He was honoured "for his innovative plays and prose which give voice to the unsayable," the Swedish Academy said.

His writing is defined more by form than content, where what is not said is often more revealing than what is.

Often compared to Samuel Beckett, Fosse's work is minimalistic, relying on simple language which delivers its message through rhythm, melody and silence.

His major works include "Boathouse" (1989), which was well-received by critics, and "Melancholy" I and II (1995-1996).

Fosse, 64, had featured widely in Nobel speculation for several years.

"His immense oeuvre written in Norwegian Nynorsk (one of Norway's written forms of languages) and spanning a variety of genres consists of a wealth of plays, novels, poetry collections, essays, children's books and translations", the jury said.

"While he is today one of the most widely performed playwrights in the world, he has also become increasingly recognised for his prose."

The Nobel Prize comes with a medal and a prize sum of 11 million Swedish kronor (about $1 million).

Last year, the award went to French feminist icon Annie Ernaux, known for her deceptively simple novels drawing on personal experience of class and gender.

The Academy has long been criticised for the overrepresentation of Western white male authors among its picks.

The Swedish Academy has undergone major reforms since a devastating #MeToo scandal in 2018, vowing a more global and gender-equal literature prize.

Since the scandal, it has honoured three women -- Annie Ernaux, US poet Louise Gluck and Poland's Olga Tokarczuk -- and three men -- Austrian author Peter Handke, Tanzanian writer Abdulrazak Gurnah and Fosse.

Fosse will receive the Nobel from King Carl XVI Gustaf at a formal ceremony in Stockholm on December 10, the anniversary of the 1896 death of scientist Alfred Nobel.