A bustle of Norwegian activity in Frankfurt

The Frankfurt Book Fair is the world’s largest book fair and this year all the Norwegian participants were gathered at a large joint stand, in a reinforced collaboration between the Norwegian Publishers Association, Norwegian agents, NORLA and Norwegian publishers. The stand was a hub of extensive activity and vibrant energy, and it was of course also decorated with many good, beautiful books in all genres.
All seven of NORLA’s staff members took part in the book fair this year for the very first time! This was also NORLA’s 25th anniversary in Frankfurt, an event that was commemorated by a friendly gesture of appreciation from the book fair in the form of a delicious cake delivered to the stand.

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Photos: Mette Børja

Many of our collaborating partners also participated in the book fair for the first time. Norway will be Guest of Honour of the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2019, and our collaboration with other art disciplines is already well under way through our network Norwegian Arts Abroad. The export organizations Norwegian Crafts, Norwegian Film Institute and the Performing Arts Hub Norway were well represented. Two of the Norwegian writers organizations attended the book fair this year, DnF (The Norwegian Authors Union) and NFF (The Norwegian Non-fiction Writers and Translators Association). The Norwegian Festival of Literature from Lillehammer visited this year’s fair, and also The Munch Museum also took part. A dialogue has been established between the latter museum and German museums about activities for 2019. Innovation Norway’s chief representative with responsibility for Germany also attended the fair.

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Minister of Culture Linda Hofstad Helleland (second from the right) and Norwegian Arts Abroad in Frankfurt. Photo: André Gali

We greatly appreciated Minister of Culture Linda Hofstad Helleland’s visit to the book fair. She had the chance to experience the enormous level of activity and diversity, and to see all the opportunities the Guest of Honour status offers for cultural profiling, both at the book fair itself, and in Frankfurt/Germany in general. She told the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) that it is a pleasure to witness the heightened preparedness of Norwegian literature agents, among others, since it is important that rights on Norwegian books remain in Norwegian hands.
Hofstad Helleland was also interviewed by the trade journal Publishing Perspectives, read the interview here.
NORLA will be collaborating with the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Fisheries on the Guest of Honour initiative throughout the period leading up to 2019. Representatives from the first two ministries and from the embassy in Berlin also took part during this year’s visit.

The Frankfurt Book Fair is a five-day event, the three first days of which are reserved for book trade professionals. NORLA’s staff members met a large number of publishers from all parts of the world during these days. German language publishers in particular are already hard at work looking for good Norwegian books for publication in the Guest of Honour year 2019.
We also met many of the talented translators who are vital contributors to the work of disseminating Norwegian literature throughout the world.

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NORLA's selected titles in Frankfurt. Photo: Mette Børja

Rights on many Norwegian books were sold in the course of the book fair, from the genres of fiction, children and young people’s literature and non-fiction. Among fiction titles there was a particularly large amount of interest in Vigdis Hjorth’s novel Wills and Testaments (original title: Arv og miljø). The rights on the novel were sold to three countries and it is being considered by another 30 some publishers. Also Johan Harstad’s great novel, in every sense of the word, Max, Mischa and the Tet Offensive (Max, Mischa og Tetoffensiven), was sold to yet another country during the fair. Non-fiction titles that were especially popular with foreign publishers were Silence in the Age of Noise (Stillhet i støyens tid) by Erling Kagge and Nowherelands (Landene som forsvant) by Bjørn Berge. A number of titles for children and young people were sold directly at the fair, among them Gry Moursund’s Three Cars and a Dead Cat (Tre biler og en død katt).

During this year’s book fair the 25th anniversary of Jostein Gaarder’s book Sophie’s World (Sofies verden) was also duly commemorated. The novel was an enormous success nationally and internationally and is considered to be the book that fired the starting shot for Norwegian literature’s success abroad.
Read more about the book here and more about the anniversary (in Norwegian) here.

At NORLA we are looking forward to continuing our intensive work on bringing good Norwegian literature out into the world and especially the escalation in activities leading up to Frankfurt 2019!

See NORLA’s selected titles for the autumn 2016 here.

See our previous articles about the Norwegian 2019 initiative here.

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