Hanne Ørstavik wins the Gyldendal Prize 2023

The highly prestigious bi-annual Gyldendal Prize is given to an author with an exceptionally significant body of work, irrespective of publisher. Previous winners include Dag Solstad, Jon Fosse, Vigdis Hjorth, Karl Ove Knausgård, Per Petterson and Rune Christiansen. The 50,000 Euro award is also the biggest prize in financial terms.
In a perceptive and insightful award speech that drew lines from her debut and through all Ørstavik’s book, the jury member Knut Hoem singled out her latest novel, stay with me (2023):
“When [the jury’s deliberations] reached this year’s winner, something happened to the atmosphere in the room. There was a feeling of consensus, which is somewhat paradoxical because there wasn’t any of us who hadn’t read the novels of this author without putting up some form of critical resistance. Nevertheless, there was a sense of relief in the room after encountering the novel that lay before us. The book with three small words in the title, in lowercase, had reached us all. We were all clearly seized by the acute questions the text posed. The existential questions, which no one living here and now can evade.
And all the while, they keep coming, these luminous sentences that are so difficult to guard oneself against. The unresolved fear from previous novels finds a temporary resolution in a new realization in last year’s novel.
‘It’s like with Ibsen’s Brand. You simply cannot remain indifferent to her,’ wrote Frode Helmich Pedersen in one of the many debate articles that now almost naturally come after each release. This intimacy between author and reader hinted at here is the result of a unique thirty-year literary work, which is by no means concluded.”
The full jury speech can be read here: