Year 2022: 30 Books

A New Name: Septology VI-VII by Jon Fosse

By Adam Dalva

and I see that I am writing the NBCC citation for A New Name: Septology VI-VII (Transit Books), yes, and I find after I go back and read Septology I-V that though I was first drawn toward the novel’s form, especially the long sentence that runs through it, stuttering here and there with dialogue and conjunction and affirmation and conjecture, I now think that the narrative line runs even more extraordinarily, yes, because I think that Fosse and his translator Damion Searls have created something unprecedented, and I think that the boldness of their work can be shown just by listing out the cast, yes, the protagonist Asle and his late wife Ales and his brother Åsleik and his doppelganger Asle, and they have doubled the lead just as the protagonist Asle has doubled lines in the iconic painting he is working on, 

for the purple and brown lines of Asle’s painting form a cross, yes, which makes me think of Catholicism, but in moments, I think, the lines of Septology have shades of Joyce, yes, and of Woolf, too, because of the breathwork of Fosse’s “and I move my thumb and index finger back down and I hold onto the brown wooden cross and then I say, again and again inside myself, while I breathe in deeply Lord and while I breathe out slowly Jesus and while I breath in deeply Christ and while I breathe out slowly Have mercy and while I breathe in deeply On me,” and traces of Fosse’s student Knausgaard appear in the deep epiphanies of the slow hours of life as Fosse writes, “and I see Asle sitting and holding Ales’s hand and she’s lying there in a bed in The Hospital, and she’s unbelievably thin now, he thinks, and she’s sleeping, and Asle feels that he’s about to start crying,” and  

since people might ask why we have singled out a book that is the last part of a longer work, I think maybe I’ll answer as I did when A New Name first arrived at my door, yes, The Return of the King

Read more about A New Name:

Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal

Merve Emre, The New Yorker

Johane Elster Hanson, Times Literary Supplement (UK)

Ruth Margalit, New York Review of Books

Starred Publishers Weekly review