News from NORLA
Summer Greetings from Margit and Halldór
The last six months have been filled with activities in connection with the Frankfurt project and NORLA’s core efforts. Publisher and translator seminars, expert visits from curators, and press tours are just some of the things that have taken place over the last few months. We’re looking forward to the autumn! The highlight will be when Norway receives the Guest Scroll from Georgia during the book fair in Frankfurt in October. This will mark the official start of our year as Guest of Honour!
Record year for translations and bookseller strategy
We’re well on our way towards a record year for the translation of Norwegian literature, a large part of which can be credited to a high demand from German publishers for the translation of Norwegian titles. We have had visits from 80 German publishers in connection with the Frankfurt project. At the time of writing, we know of 190 Norwegian titles that are being published in German translation in 2018 and 2019. To ensure that these books actually end up in the hands of readers, we have implemented a strategic collaboration with German booksellers that will be decisive in making sure there are Norwegian books beneath the Christmas trees in Christmas 2019 – and many years to come! The start of the initiative was at the book fair in Leipzig this year, and during autumn 2018 and spring 2019 we are inviting German booksellers to Norway to inspire, engage and include them in the Frankfurt project.
Literature and cultural program
The core of the Frankfurt project is the literature and cultural program. Through a comprehensive program, we’re opening the doors to a German audience and an international industry to help them get better acquainted with, surprised and challenged by Norway and Norwegian culture. The literature program will allow authors of Norwegian prose, children’s literature and adult fiction to meet German audiences at literature houses, book fairs and book festivals across Germany starting in January 2019. The literature program culminates at the Frankfurt Book Fair and with a series of readings and events at the Fair. The work on concretizing the program is in continuous development, and the core aspects will be publicized at the Frankfurt Book Fair this year.
The cultural program entails exhibitions, concerts, and theatre, primarily in Frankfurt, but also other locations in Germany throughout the autumn of 2019. In the last year, we’ve been visited by a number of curators from cultural institutions in Frankfurt. One of the highlights of the cultural program is the exhibition at Museum Angewandte Kunst (MAK). The entire museum will be devoted to our country’s art and culture for a period of three to four months. The exhibition “House of Norway” is curated by museum director Matthias Wagner K.
Read more about it here.
Financing of the Frankfurt Project
We have reached key milestones in the Frankfurt Project, which is being financed by three government departments, as well as through funds from organizations in the Norwegian book industry, private foundations and the business sector. In April this year, we presented the project’s new main partners: Thon Hotels, Oppland Municipality, Oslo Municipality and Norway Health Tech. With these partners on board, the project is almost fully financed. We are now working on finding partners for the major exhibitions that will take place in Frankfurt as a part of the cultural program.
Book trade meetings, book fairs and festivals
In the last six months, we’ve arranged several book trade meetings internationally. In March, we organized an book trade meeting and translation seminar in Paris in connection with Salon du Livre. In June, we organized a meeting in Vienna for Austrian publishers and translators. At the book fair in Leipzig in March, there was a record Norwegian turnout – thirteen Norwegian authors met their readers there, and among them were five New Voices participants. NORLA also organized a translation seminar and the book fair marked the beginning of our strategic collaboration with German booksellers. Read more about this year’s book fair in Leipzig here.
One of our main goals for the Frankfurt initiative is to bring forth new writers and show the rich diversity of Norwegian contemporary literature. This is the background for our cooperation with Talent Norway and the Norwegian Publishers’ Association on the “New Voices” subproject.
This spring’s set of new voices consisted of Øystein Morten, Gudrun Skretting, Lars Petter Sveen, Lotta Elstad og Heidi Sævareid. Over the course of the spring, they visited the book fair in Leipzig where 15 German translators worked with their texts. Four of them met publishers in London at a seminar in collaboration with the Norwegian embassy. One of them attended the literature festival in Montreal, Canada, and another helped launch the translation of their book in Kiev. One went on a research trip to North Russia and met Russian students who are studying Norwegian. Some participated in seminars in Lviv in Ukraine and Cluj in Romania. The autumn’s New Voices have now been chosen and will consist of Monica Isakstuen, Thomas Reinertsen Berg, Alfred Fidjestøl, Ingunn Thon and Linn Strømsborg. The program now includes a total of 20 authors.
Literature Go Global
Literature Go Global (Norwegian: Litteratur ut i verden, or “LUV”) gives Norwegian literary agents the opportunity to get a better foothold in the international market. The export program has a framework of 5 million Norwegian kroner and is part of the government’s commitment to cultural and creative industries. LUV is a collaboration between the Ministry of Culture, Innovation Norway and NORLA. After an application process, seven companies have been selected to participate in the program. The first meeting was held on June 21st. Read more about it here.
Press tours are a central part of the PR work we’re doing in the Frankfurt project. This year, we invited two groups of journalists to give them a taste of what they can expect from Norway’s guest year. We took the first group to Oslo and the literature festival in Lillehammer, while the other group participated in HKH Crown Princess Mette-Marit’s “Literature Train” (Norwegian: Litteraturtog) that went from Kristiansand to Stavanger. The tours resulted in good content in both traditional and social media. Examples include this blog post av Kafeehaussitzer by Kafeehaussitzer, Uwe Kalkowski, and videos by vlogger BuchGeschichten, Ilke Sayan. There have been reports in outlets including Deutschlandfunk, Deutschlandradio, WDR and Süddeutsche Zeitung.
New collaborating partners
At the beginning of this summer, we entered an agreement with German PR agency Literaturtest; the agreement with the Book Fair stipulates that the guest country must have a German PR agency. We have already collaborated with the agency on the press tours and look forward to arranging a press conference with them at the Frankfurt Book Fair this year.
Design agency NODE will design the Frankfurt project’s visual identity and website. The identity and website are currently under development and will be presented and used starting in the autumn. We are looking forward to sharing the Frankfurt project’s unique identity!
In January, NORLA, in collaboration with DOGA and NAL, announced an open architecture competition for the design of the Guest of Honour pavilion. In total, 66 applications were approved for further consideration. On June 26th, we announced the results of the competition at a ceremony at DOGA. The winning project is the proposal Norge forteller, designed by the architect firms of manthey kula and LCLA office. The architects will further develop their idea in collaboration with NORLA. We’re excited!
It’s almost autumn!
We’re entering an exciting autumn with the impending completion of the literature and cultural programs, the project’s visual identity and website, the pavilion, visits from German booksellers, and much more. The highlight of the autumn will be when we go to Frankfurt during this year’s book fair, receiving the Guest Scroll from Georgia and officially becoming the Guest of Honour. We’re really looking forward to it!
Luckily, it’s almost autumn – but for now, we hope you all have a nice summer!
On behalf of NORLA and the Frankfurt team,
Margit Walsø and Halldór Guðmundsson