French springtime in Lillehammer

Maylis de Kerangal (FR), Leïla Slimani (FR), Kamel Daoud (DZ), Timothy Snyder (US), Boualem Sansal (DZ), Carsten Jensen (DK), Han Kang (KR), Jacques Roubaud (FR), Werewere-Liking Gnepo (CI) and the Norwegian writers Per Petterson, Eldrid Lunden, Jan Grue, Tharaniga Rajah, Lars Mytting and Gunnhild Øyehaug are amongst this year’s main guests.

The literature festival at Lillehammer is the largest in the Nordic region and has been voted one of the 20 best literature festivals in the world. The festival runs for 6 days and includes more than 250 events, 450 guests and this year we expect a new attendance record of up to 30,000 visitors.

The key themes of this year’s programme are: the power of language, French-language literature and social debate. A full range of Norwegian literature is, as always, represented in the extensive festival programme. Significantly, the programme for children and young people has doubled since last year!

The power of Language
The discussion and revelation of structures and power-relations in language is a theme that we intend to consider during this year’s festival. Every time we express ourselves, our realities are augmented; the words we choose contribute to who we are – they contain markers of identity, class, values and political affiliation. Such is also the case with the language we find in the literature we read, or when we listen to others. Words always have an impact, but the degree depends upon who delivers them. The framework around a discussion can have consequences upon any conclusions that are drawn.

Films, philosophy and 10 French-language writers
The festival’s “French trail” includes film, philosophy, an introduction to French literature and a dozen events where the 10 French-language authors will participate during this year’s festival. Meet Maylis de Kerangal (FRA), Leïla Slimani (MA / FR), Kamel Daoud (DZ), Boualem Sansal (DZ), Jacques Roubaud (FR), Werewere-Liking Gnepo (CI) Alice Zeniter (FR), Laura Vazquez (FR), Nicolas Mathieu (FR) and Édouard Louis (FR).

We will also discover whether the world’s longest novel, the French classic À la recherche du temps perdu by Marcel Proust, is longer than The Norwegian Festival of Literature? The answer will be revealed when author Jonny Halberg attempts his marathon reading of the novel during the festival. Halberg will read from Karin Gundersen’s Norwegian translation, throughout the festival – will he reach his goal and get to the final word before the festival’s finale six days later?

‘Madeleine Moments’
In one of literature’s most famous passages, Proust muses on how the taste of Madeleine cakes dipped in tea unleashes a flow of childhood memories. Good literature often embraces experiences that bring the past to life, both for the character and for the reader. Let this year’s festival provide Madeleine moments through the literature of, amongst others, Johan Mjønes, Han Kang, Eldrid Lunden, Mette Moestrup and Per Petterson – all of whom will be reading and conversing at the festival.

We are doubling the programme for children and young people
2019 is a year of extraordinary focus on literature in Norway, to the extent that it has been defined as a national reading year. The Norwegian Festival of Literature plans to make a significant contribution to the national promise to create a desire for reading and to developing the reading ability of children and young people. With the help of solid support from our sponsors we are closer than ever to the goal of providing all children and young people, who so desire, with the opportunity to develop a great relationship with literature.

A foretaste of Frankfurt
The festival will also lend a hand in Norway’s preparations for this autumn’s main event, the Frankfurter Buchmesse – where Norway will be the Guest of Honour. 16 international publishers and a group representing the German press and German and Swiss bookstores will be amongst NORLA’s guests in Lillehammer during the festival. Georgian writers who have already experienced life as Guests of Honour, in 2018, will also be in Lillehammer to talk with Norwegian authors. Whilst Norwegian PEN has arranged a debate to discuss whether large demands for export lead to realignments within the literary markets.

Debates, and Norway speaks its mind.
There will be daily debates on topics such as no-platforming, the regional press, and sports. On Saturday 25 May, the festival, in collaboration with NRK, will invite people with conflicting opinions to exchange views face-to-face, privately around the coffee table or publicly on stage.