1984 Göran Tunström, Sweden: Juloratoriet

1984 Göran Tunström, Sverige: Juloratoriet
© Monica Englund

About the author

Göran Tunström grew up in Sunne in Värmland, a village that became more than a revisited place for the writer; in time it became synonymous with life. His father, a minister, died suddenly of a heart attack and the loss penetrated Göran Tunström’s entire body of work, it was the black hole around which his entire work revolved. A common trait of his stories is a fascinated and warm human closeness. He is a person who always maintained the child’s emotional perception.

About the winning piece

Juloratoriet is rooted in a disaster: a herd of cows stampedes and kills his grandmother when she is on her way to church to sing. The difficulty of putting this event behind them triggers a range of actions in the survivors, finally leading to a life in art as a type of answer or at least as an attitude to life. Bach’s Christmas Oratorium constantly played in the novel symbolises art’s way of life as a contrast to the suffering, loneliness and privations of human life. Bach has something to offer in the light of death, the opening choir of trumpeting angels in the Christmas Oratorium hails the antipode of death: Joy! Praise!


Published by: Albert Bonnier's publishing company 

Publication year: 1983

This is what the Adjudicating Committee had to say

After presentation of the nominated works and after a vote, the committee decided to award the Literature Prize 1984 to Göran Tunström for his novel “Juloratoriet” in which he links human destiny to voices in a choral work and shapes the possibility of re-creating the world out of chaos.