News from NORLA

Success for Norwegian literature in Turkey

20150508 112206 workshopsvarthvitt

NORLA and the Norwegian Embassy in Turkey recently arranged, for the first time, a seminar for translators and publishers in Istanbul!
Read the report by NORLA’s Senior Adviser, Oliver Møystad, below.

In recent years, there has been an increasing interest for Norwegian literature among Turkish publishers. In the period between 2004-2014 some 60 translations into Turkish have been supported by NORLA, 21 of them in 2014. NORLA visited Istanbul Book Fair for the first time in 2013 and found an active and vibrant publishing scene. To meet this increasing interest, the Norwegian embassy and NORLA decided to arrange a seminar for publishers and translators in Istanbul. This May it finally took place.

On May 6th, eight enthusiastic translators gathered for an opening dinner in the restaurant of Atlantis Blue hotel, with a magnificent view of the Golden Horn, the Bosporous and the city. A magic start! The evening was finished in the best way possible, with Norwegian writer and Istanbul expert Thorvald Steen giving a lecture on Bysants and Norwegian viking king Sigurd Jorsalfar.

On the next day it was time for the”real” seminar in the beautiful premises of the Swedish Research Institute. It is rather a special feeling to enter the grounds of the Swedish Consulate these days, where one has to pass the queue of Syrian asylum seekers at the gate – a stark reminder of the harsh reality so many people experience in this part of the world.

The day started with a lively discussion about the Turkish publishing scene between Thorvald Steen and the translators. Around 10.30 the Turkish publishers who had signed up for the day arrived – between 15 and 20 people – which must be said to be a very good turnout.

The first topic was copyright issues, with introductions by directors Yngve Slettholm of Kopinor in Norway, and Metin Celal of the Turkish Publishers’ Association. The level of organization is quite different in the two countries, but both parties are concerned with securing copyrights in the best possible way.

After this introduction, it was time to go over to the real thing – the literature!
The audience was presented with various perspectives on the rich Norwegian literature: Translator Haydar Kenan talked about his relationship to Norwegian literature; Thorvald Steen presented ten contemporary fiction writers, and children books’ writer Hilde Hagerup talked about her favourite childrens’ books. Finally NORLA presented its program for translation support.

The intense day was rounded off with a reception, with some very well deserved wine and snacks. The Turkish publishers all said they found the information they had received, and seemed duly impressed by the quality and variety of Norwegian contemporary literature.

The last day was translators’ day. It started 9.15 with a very engaging lecture on translation theory by Norwegian professor Sylfest Lomheim, before the translators set out to discuss each others’ text at length and with great energy. They were almost unstoppable, and found such pleasure in each others’ company that the four translators living in Oslo decided to meet every month from now on to continue the discussion!

20150508 202022 dinnersvart hvitt

Afterwards there was a sumptuous Turkish farewell dinner at restaurant Yare in an alley off Istiklal Cadessi. Ample quantities of raki were consumed and numerous toasts were held, before the night was rounded off in a bar with a wonderful view of the Bosporous. Then it was time to say good bye to Istanbul – for this time! But we are sure that this event will lead to many new translations and contacts – and hopefully another seminar in the future!

To see the book covers of Norwegian books published in Turkey through translations subsidy from NORLA (since 2011), please click here.

NORLA travels around the world to promote Norwegian literature
Please have look at some of our other travelogues here.