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Guest of Honour at the Frankfurter Buchmesse 2019: Norway’s literature programme gets under way in Leipzig

Frankfurt, 21 March 2019 – “Norway – The Dream We Carry” is the theme of this year’s Guest of Honour at the Frankfurter Buchmesse (16-20 October 2019). At a press conference in Leipzig today, Norway celebrated the start of its 2019 literature programme. 18 Norwegian authors and their works will be in the spotlight over the next few days: around 40 events are planned at the Leipzig exhibition grounds and in the city itself, stimulating interest in Norway’s diverse literature and music scene. The programme is organised by NORLA (Norwegian Literature Abroad).

Speaking at the press conference were: Marianne Hagen (Norwegian State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Juergen Boos (Director of the Frankfurter Buchmesse), Margit Walsø (Director of NORLA) and Halldór Guðmundsson (Project Leader of the 2019 Guest of Honour appearance).

“Norwegian literature is characterized by a great diversity and strong voices within all genres. We will use the opportunity as Guest of Honour as an occasion the share these voices and stories from Norway with the world and promote the joy of reading", said Margit Walsø, Director of NORLA.

Marianne Hagen, Norwegian State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, highlighted the political value of her country’s status as Guest of Honour: “Being Guest of Honour at Frankfurter Buchmesse this October is a unique opportunity for Norway. We will not only showcase our diverse literature and culture, but also use the book fair as a platform to defend, promote and debate our shared values – human rights, democracy and freedom of expression – together with our German and international partners.”

The wide-ranging nature of Norwegian voices and stories became clear in discussion with the invited authors, who were interviewed by German bookseller Iris Hunscheid. Anne B. Ragde, whose Neshov novels have a big fan base in Germany, answered questions about her latest literary coup Liebhaberne [The Lovers]. Lars Mytting spoke about his most recent work, Søsterklokken [The Bell in the Lake], which explores the life of protagonist Astrid Hekne and her search for emancipation in the 1880s. Marta Breen, one of Norway's most prominent feminists, fielded questions about her recently published graphic novel Women in Battle (Norw. Kvinner i kamp, illustrated by Jenny Jordahl). The book is a tribute to strong women – from Rosa Luxemburg to Malala Yousafzai. The strong presence of feminist perspectives in Norway's literary landscape was discussed with the authors at the press conference, alongside other subjects. In addition, author and filmmaker Lars Brandt talked to publisher Stefan Weidle about Flügel in Flammen [Wings on Fire], the collected works of Dagny Juel. And there were musical contributions from musician and author Pål Moddi Knutsen. His book Forbudte sanger [Forbidden Songs] is just out with Edition Nautilus.

Project leader Halldór Guðmundsson spoke about the importance of freedom of speech as a pillar of Norwegian identity: “Freedom of expression gives literature life. The Frankfurt Book Fair shares that view, as shown by its ‘On The Same Page’ campaign last year, and Norway, with its long democratic tradition, also sees it that way. That’s why freedom of expression and the desire for critical debate, even about difficult topics, will be central components of the Norwegian literature programme in its Guest of Honour Year”.

“Democracy and freedom of expression are deeply rooted in Norwegian society, and literature is highly valued. In recent years, Norway's literary scene has produced a number of highly respected authors – Maja Lunde, Karl Ove Knausgård, Jo Nesbø, Linn Ullmann, Matias Faldbakken – to name but a few. The number of international bestsellers Norway produces is impressive, and Norwegian authors stand out for their extraordinary ability to describe phenomena that are universally relevant. This year, I am particularly looking forward to hearing about Norway’s talented young writers; I’m curious to see which topics they address and what kind of stance they take,” said Juergen Boos, Director of the Frankfurter Buchmesse, about Norway's Guest of Honour presentation.

A press photo with the speakers of the press conference is available here for download:
Please note the copyright information: © Sabine Felber.

About the Guest of Honour
Norway is 2019 Guest of Honour at the Frankfurter Buchmesse. The guest country appearance is organised by NORLA – Norwegian Literature Abroad. NORLA is organising the guest country appearance on behalf of the Norwegian government and the Norwegian book industry. NORLA was founded in 1978, and has contributed to the translation of around 5,500 Norwegian books into 66 languages since 2004 alone. The Frankfurter Buchmesse, which takes place between 16-20 October 2019, is the world's largest publishing trade fair. The Guest of Honour presents its literature and culture at the fair in Frankfurt, and at numerous other locations in Germany. The theme of Norway's Guest of Honour presentation is “The Dream We Carry”, which is drawn from a poem by Norwegian poet Olav H. Hauge.

About Frankfurter Buchmesse
Frankfurter Buchmesse is the international publishing industry’s biggest trade fair – with over 7,500 exhibitors from 109 countries, around 285,000 visitors, over 4,000 events and some 10,000 accredited journalists and bloggers in attendance. It is the most important international marketplace for content – from novels and children’s books to academic databases and stories for films, games and virtual reality experiences. Publishing professionals from around the world meet here with partners from the technology sector and from related creative and cultural industries, sparking new partnerships and business models. A strong conference programme ensures that Frankfurter Buchmesse is a major source of inspiration for content experts from around the world. Since 1976, the book fair has featured an annual Guest of Honour country, which showcases its book market, literature and culture to attendees in a variety of ways. Frankfurter Buchmesse organises the participation of German publishers at around 20 international book fairs and hosts trade events throughout the year in major international markets. Frankfurter Buchmesse is a subsidiary of the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (German Publishers & Booksellers Association).

Contact for the media:
Press & Corporate Communication, Frankfurter Buchmesse
Katja Böhne, Vice President Marketing & Communications, Phone: +49 (0) 69 2102-138,
Kathrin Grün, Head of Communications, Phone: +49 (0) 69 2102-170,