News from NORLA

We are off to a brilliant start!

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Several prominent guests from abroad contributed to the conference. From the left: Juergen Boos, Director of the Frankfurt Book Fair, Matthias Wagner K, Director of Museum Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt, Barbara Weidle, Head of Publishing Company Weidle Verlag and Bas Pauw, project manager for the Netherlands & Flanders as guest of honour 2016.

In the end of April, NORLA invited stakeholders to take part in a planning and input conference for Norway as Guest of Honour nation in Frankfurt 2019. We are pleased that 250 participants from the literature trade and cultural life took part in sounding the starting shot for the project – which will be the largest ever Norwegian cultural initiative abroad.

The project also includes a comprehensive culture framework programme and implies an important boost for Norwegian literature and other art forms internationally.
NORLA will head the work leading up to 2019, in close collaboration with authors, publishers, agents, arts institutions, the export network Norwegian Arts Abroad and other cultural stakeholders on the creation of a compelling and attractive programme. The project also includes a comprehensive culture framework programme and implies an important boost for Norwegian literature and other art forms internationally.
Among the topics addressed during the course of the day were the significance of being a guest of honour nation, the programme’s framework and opportunities, experiences of former guest of honour nations and what Norway’s message and profile will be.
Several prominent contributors were on the programme, from both Norway and abroad. State Secretary Laila Bokhari opened the conference and in her speech announced the wonderful news that Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mette-Marit will assume the role of ambassador of Norwegian literature abroad and that she will work in particular with the Frankfurt project in the coming years! Read the Crown Princess’ wonderful speech at the conference here. Director Juergen Boos from the Book Fair in Frankfurt provided interesting insight on the history of the book fair and its focus on freedom of expression.
Other contributors at the planning and input conference were author Åsne Seierstad, Publishing Director Anne Gaathaug, architect Håkon Matre Aaserød and Cathrine Pia Lund from Innovation Norway. There were also presentations from the Netherlands by Bas Pauw, project manager for the Netherlands & Flanders (Guest of Honour in 2016) and Germany by Museum Director Matthias Wagner K, publisher Barbara Weidle and journalist Clemens Bomsdorf.

We would like to thank all contributors and participants for a wonderful day and look forward to the continued work. To quote Minister of Culture Linda Hofstad Helland: “Everything is in place to ensure that we will accomplish something spectacular!”

See some of the highlights from the conference here:

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Kjersti Annesdatter Skomsvold and Bendik Hovig Kjeldsberg set a lovely tone for the conference with their artistic opening segment, Ferdigsnakka LIVE.
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Key stakeholders from the fields of both literature and culture participated in Wednesday’s conference.
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NORLA’s Director Margit Walsø and project manager of Frankfurt 2019 Halldór Gudmundsson welcomed an enthusiastic assembly.
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State Secretary Laila Bokhari opened the conference and shared the news that Crown Princess Mette-Marit will assume the role of ambassador for Norwegian literature abroad. She also highlighted the unique opportunity being created for the different arts forms through the Guest of Honour project.
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"Frankfurt is perhaps the world’s foremost meeting place for the open exchange of thoughts and ideas, expressed in writing and in book form ", the Crown Princess said in her speech. “During the fair the entire world meets in respect and love for the written word and for literature in particular.”

Read her speech in English here.

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Bas Pauw, Project Manager for the Netherlands & Flanders’ Guest of Honour project at the Book Fair in 2016 contributed a humorous perspective on how to best carry out a Guest of Honour project, or as he expressed it: “How to invent Norwegian wheels for a German car.”

He offered Norway ten pieces of good advice – you can read them (in Norwegian) here.

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Pictures, words and music complemented one another perfectly during Lars Saabye Christensen and Stian Hole’s evocative performance of the segment "Sanne gleder", (“True Pleasures”) beautifully accompanied by Mathias Eick and Eyolf Dale.
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Director Juergen Boos of the Book Fair in Frankfurt makes the following statement about the conference: "A very professional introduction into the Guest of Honour project with all major stakeholders involved, under the patronage of HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit – I am very impressed by the level of motivation and commitment!"
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There was a good atmosphere in the hall and the laughter flowed freely during several of the presentations.
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The role of architecture in the project was also illuminated during the conference. Here moderator Aslak Sira Myhre is seen in conversation with architect Håkon Matre Aaserød, discussing the fair’s opportunities for architecture, particularly with an eye to the design of the guest of honour pavilion.
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Åsne Seierstad spoke about the importance of the Book Fair for authors and made one concrete suggestion for the project based on her own success abroad: don’t be afraid to talk about conflicts!
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Minister of Culture Linda Hofstad Helleland arrived directly from Svalbard to give the last talk of the day during the conference and took advantage of the occasion to highlight the unique breadth and quality of Norwegian literature and art we have to show the world.
The day’s host was the Project Manager for Frankfurt 2019 Halldór Gudmundsson and Director Margit Walsø. They observe with great pleasure the enthusiasm with which the guest of honour project is received.

If you have any ideas or input, we would greatly appreciate your contacting us at

All photographs: Kristin Svorte.

Books from Norway provides you with English-language information about all genres of Norwegian literature. The information is provided by the rightsholders and NORLA.

Norway as Guest of Honour at Frankfurter Buchmesse

Norway was Guest of Honour at the Frankfurter Buchmesse 2019. Please visit our website for information about the project.

Frankfurt 2019