The Nordic Year at Göteborg Book Fair
The whole of the Nordic is coming to the Göteborg Book Fair this year, on the 27-30th September! The theme will be seen throughout the Fair, in seminars, on the stages and at the exhibitors’ stands during the entire Book Fair, which offers no fewer than 3338 different programme events with 2388 participants this year, in addition to 932 exhibitors in the hall.
This year’s Nordic theme will be seen throughout the Fair – not least on the Nordic stand which offers a broad and thought-provoking programme. The Nordic cooperation has existed now for 60 years, offering a starting point for conversations and discussions about the Nordic region from a great many different views.
– We are coming to the Göteborg Book Fair to celebrate 60 years of Nordic cooperation, but don’t imagine that means we are looking back in time. Quite the contrary. Looking ahead to the future, we invite the new Nordic region to a debate. Nordic identity, Nordic literature, a Nordic model – what do we mean by these expressions and what do we want them to mean? commented Kimmo Sasi, president of the Nordic Council.
Another Nordic anniversary is that of the Nordic Council Literature Prize which has been awarded for 50 years. The year’s prize was awarded to the Norwegian Merethe Lindstrøm, who will speak at the official opening of the Book Fair.
In addition, the Nordic theme pervades the Book Fair’s seminar programme this year. Over 60 authors from across the Nordic region are taking part in seminars, including Suzanne Brøgger and Hanne-Vibeke Holst from Denmark, Monika Fagerholm and Riikka Pulkkinen from Finland, Einar Már Guðmundsson and Sjón from Iceland, Erlend Loe and Anne B. Ragde from Norway, as well as hundreds of writers from Sweden.
– We are delighted to welcome Tomas Tranströmer to the Book Fair as a guest of honour, comments Maria Källsson, Book Fair Director.
The Nobel Prize Laureate Tomas Tranströmer will take part in the seminar Tranströmer, a Mystic, not a Preacher (in Swedish) on Thursday 27th September at 1pm. Later the same day, at 4pm, the photographic exhibition See Tranströmer opens in the Congress Foyer. Twenty photographers have interpreted a Tranströmer poem each via a photograph.
The Swedish Church’s cultural side is hosting a programme event about Tranströmer and his poetry daily at 1pm, at their stage ’See the Person’.
Voices from Ireland
Irish writers will be heard and seen throughout the Book Fair. Sebastian Barry, twice nominated for the Booker Prize, and Kevin Barry, who was praised by Irvine Welsh as “the most arresting and original writer to emerge from these islands in years” are two of the participants. They are joined by a further six Irish writers: Paul Muldoon, Paul Murray, Colm Tóibín, Siobhán Parkinson, Éilis Ní Dhuibhne and John Boyne.
– In Ireland literature is a part of life. Dublin, the city made immortal through Ulysses, was named an UNESCO City of Literature in 2009, in recognition of the city’s lively literary scene and its brilliant writers. The eight Irish writers who are visiting Göteborg write in different styles and their books explore widely diverse themes, but they unite in their search for “just the right word”, says Ragnar Almqvist, from the Irish Embassy.
Eunic (European Union National Institutes for Culture) is a network of cultural institutes from EU member countries. This year they have invited in some of the most interesting writers from these countries, including: Norman Manea from Rumania, Turkish/German Emine Sevgi Özdamar, Polish/German Sabrina Janesch, Peter Waterhouse from Austria, and Swiss Arno Camenisch, the newest star of Romansh literature.
Other guests from outside the Nordic Region
Other guests from outside the Nordic Region at this year’s Book Fair include Claudia Piñeiro, journalist, screenwriter and author from Argentina, Anna Arutunyan, Russian political scientist and political reporter for the Moscow News, the French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt, the British author and potter Edmund de Waal, the British crime writer Peter James and Michelle Paver, from the United Kingdom.
Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye
Journalists Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye, recently released from prison in Ethiopia, are participating in a manifestation for imprisoned journalists on Thursday 27th September at the International Square. Other participants include: Jonas Nordling, chair of the Swedish Union of Journalists, Lotta Schüllerqvist, chair of Reportrar utan gränser (Swedish Reporters without Borders), and Esayas Isaak, brother of the journalist Dawit Isaak who has been imprisoned in Eritrea since 2001.
Nordic Cities of Refuge stand
In honour of Nordic theme, all 23 of the Nordic Cities of Refuge have joined forces to celebrate freedom of speech and spread the word about the Cities of Refuge programme. Writers and journalists from 15 countries will appear at ICORN’s exhibition stand C02:32.
Swedish Handicraft Society 100 year anniversary
– The Association of Swedish Handicraft Societies marks its 100th birthday this year, and celebrates this on a large scale with a stand in Hall B – filled to the brim with activities – and with five seminars featuring scholars, handicraft workers and surprise guests. The environment, sustainability, Do It Yourself and boundary-breaking are central themes in the five seminars, says Kerstin Andersson Åhlin, General Secretary for The National Association of Swedish Handicraft Societies.
Among the participants in the seminars are designer and scholar Otto von Busch and John-Michael Ekeblad, designer and design strategist.
Litteraturutredningen – the Swedish Parliamentary Commission for Literature and Reading
Litteraturutredningen, with chair Tomas Lidman and commission members Annina Rabe, Johanna Koljonen and Martin Ingvar, will present its final conclusions for the first time, at Göteborg Book Fair. The Commission is to propose recommendations for governmental input in order to strengthen the status of literature and increase reading. Thursday 27th September at 10 am. A press conference will be held after the seminar.
Bibliotek12 – Library12
There is a great deal on offer for libraries in Hall E with a special collaboratory effort called Bibliotek12 (Library12). Kultur i Väst (a cultural organisation for western Sweden), Region Halland and the Swedish School of Library and Information Science have combined with the Swedish Library Association to offer programme events on the Library and Storytelling Stage, on all four days of the Book Fair.
This year sees a big commitment from Hungary at the Book Fair. The Hungarian minister for media communication, Zoltán Kovács, debates the much discussed media law and freedom of expression in Hungary, with Swedish MP Mats Johansson (Moderat Party) and Swedish European MP Cecilia Wikström (Folk Party), on Thursday 27 september at 4pm on the Debate Stage.
Three writers are also attending the Book Fair: Béla Fehér, Noémi Szécsi and János Szentmártoni. There is also an opportunity to meet Tranströmer’s Hungarian translator Béla Jávorszky.
The official opening of the Book Fair – Thursday 27th September at 11 am in Hall V – will feel like a political summit! Participants include: the Swedish Minister of Culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, the Icelandic Minister of Culture Katrin Jakobsdottir, the Färö Islands Minister of Culture, Björn Kalsø, the Danish Minister for Nordic Cooperation Manu Sareen and the Norwegian State Secretary for the Minister of Culture Kjersti Stenseng.
Also on the stage will be the president of the Nordic Council Kimmo Sasi from Finland, this year’s Nordic Council Literature Prize winner Merethe Lindstrøm and Maria Källsson, Book Fair Director. The Finnish-Swedish writer and presenter Mark Levengood will host the opening ceremony.
The Nordic Stand (C02:02) will be inaugurated an hour later, at 12 noon, with a small taste of Dvoøák’s opera Rusalka, the libretto of which is based on H.C. Andersen’s classic The Little Mermaid, being performed at the Göteborg Opera House this season.
This year marks two important anniversaries: Strindberg Year and Raoul Wallenberg 100 year anniversary. The 100 year anniversaries of August Strindberg’s death and Raoul Wallenberg’s birth are honoured with seminars, stage events and stand events.
Göteborg Book Fair is the largest cultural event in the Nordic Region with 100,000 visitors. It takes place at the Swedish Exhibition Center in Göteborg from the 27th – 30th September.
Read the latest from the Book Fair and get the full programme at www.goteborg-bookfair.com