2018 was a solid, record year for Norwegian literature abroad

Norwegian literature abroad is growing. In 2018, NORLA granted support for the translation of 639 books by Norwegian authors, into 45 languages. Making 2018 the best year there has ever been for Norwegian literature in translation.

– Never, in NORLA’s 40-year history, have so many titles been granted translation support, says Margit Walsø, NORLA’s director.

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Maja Lunde is interviewed by her literary agent Annette Orre on The Blue Sofa during The Leipzig Book Fair in 2018. Photo: Gert Mothes.

An incredible growth rate
In 2004, NORLA provided support for just over 100 translations. By 2017, that number was 538 and in 2018 the number of grants increased by 19 percent to 639 titles. The 639 grants went to 479 fiction titles (an increase of 17% from 2017) and 160 non-fiction titles (up 24% from the previous year). The biggest increase has been in books for children and young adults, with 197 grants, which is an increase of 29%.

Figures from the Norwegian literature agencies show that the total number of rights sold abroad in 2018 is close to 1000 titles.

Most translations into German
A total of 80 German-language publications of Norwegian titles have received support in 2018. Never has NORLA granted support for so many translations into one language.

The large number of translations is a result of the work that literary agents, the book industry in general and NORLA have done to promote Norwegian literature in German-speaking areas in connection with the project Norway as Guest of Honour at Frankfurter Buchmesse 2019.

–70 German and Austrian publishers have visited Norway and become acquainted with the Norwegian book industry, we have developed the web portal Books from Norway, increased the support for German and English translations, and made Norwegian authors and books visible internationally.

A united Norwegian book industry has invested heavily in network building and rights sales in the build-up to the Guest of Honour year, and we are now seeing the results, says Walsø.

Translations into 45 languages
Besides German, the next largest languages for Norwegian literature, according to NORLA’s translation support figures, are: English, Danish, Dutch, Polish, French, Swedish, Spanish, Bulgarian, Chinese, Turkish and Russian.

And for the first time, NORLA has granted support for the translation of a Norwegian book into Burmese.

Breadth and authorship
A total of 639 grants, went to a total of 407 different titles, representing 270 authorships. This emphasises the great breadth of literature that is going abroad.

The three most translated authors – according to NORLA’s translation support figures – and regardless of genre, are:
Karl Ove Knausgård (29 translations, fiction and non-fiction)
Maja Lunde (17 translations, fiction for both adults and children)
Jørn Lier Horst (15 translations, fiction for both adults and children)

The most translated authors within the different genres are:
Karl Ove Knausgård with 24 fiction translations (10 titles).
Long Litt Woon is the most translated non-fiction author with 7 translations (1 title).
Maria Parr is most translated author within literature for children and young adults, with 11 translations (3 titles).

Read more

See details of NORLA’s allocated translation subsidy in previous years here.