Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Norwegian Festival of Literature, 26-31 May 2009

The Sigrid Undset Days of the Norsk Litteraturfestival have just started in Lillehammer today. The Norwegian website has an English section, with the programme available as a pdf document.

One of the guests this year is Sofi Oksanen, well-known on this blog, who will be appearing on Saturday, and talking about "The Failure of Feminism in Eastern Europe".

As I have only just found the website myself, I haven't much more to say. But the programme will no doubt interest many.


David McDuff said...

I see it's reported that, much to the relief of the organizers, David Irving decided at the last moment not to attend the Festival.

Eric Dickens said...

I think that Sofi Oksanen, even without her Gothic make-up, is somehow prettier than David Irving. The litfest website is in red, black and white, but otherwise I see no sign of this being a crypto-Nazi event.

Pia Tafdrup is one of the poets attending. Another poet is called Victoria Hislop; I wonder whether she's Ian's daughter. Otherwise, I have to admit that most of the names there are quite unknown to me, be they Nordic or other.

The theme this year is "truth".

There is one event entitled "Nordisk toppmøte" with Gyrðir Elíasson (poetry/prose; Iceland), Sofi Oksanen (prose; Finland), Niels Fredrik Dahl (poetry; Norway). The discussion will be led by the Finnish journalist Oscar Rossi.

Another event, chaired by Rossi, is called "Sannheten kom som ett dikt", with poets Øyvind Rimbereid (Norway), Lone Hørslev (Denmark) and Paal Bjelke Andersen (Norway).

David McDuff said...

>> I have to admit that most of the names there are quite unknown to me, be they Nordic or other.<<

That was also my experience when I attended the festival some years ago. It's an odd event - more like a country fair than a literary festivai.

David McDuff said...

Irving was originally invited to attend, it seems. But understandably, I guess, there was some disagreement on the matter, and one of the "consultants" resigned as a result. The Aftenposten article (linked to above) isn't quite clear.

Eric Dickens said...

There are more details in the newspaper Dagbladet:


There, it states that the committee was united except for one Stig Sæterbakken, who has resigned as artistic director of the festival. He claims, in the name of freedom of expression, that Irving should have come.

Otherwise, Dagbladet said (again, on 9th October 2008) that both Norwegian authors and others have criticised the decision to invite Irving:


It was that same day that Sæterbakken resigned, so I think Lillehammer has recovered its reputation since last autumn. Reading the Norwegian press from the last few days, it looks as if it was now Irving who made his own rather feeble threat to travel to Lillehammer, from Oslo where he is staying. The great man is quoted as finally saying:

Jeg er veldig trett. Nå skal jeg bare slappe av og gå litt rundt i byen. Jeg har ikke vært i Norge på 44 år, så jeg gleder meg til å få se litt av landet, sier Irving.

So, a little toddle round Oslo after almost half a century's absence. Several hotels in Lillehammer refused Irving. Irving even threatened to sue them, but then dropped the idea. But he says he has (unspecified) friends in Lillehammer. Tough talk. Source:


Eric Dickens said...

One little additional comment. The poet Victoria Hislop is the wife of Private Eye editor Ian Hislop, not his daughter.

I find the festival website a bit fragmented. You have to search all over the shop for things, and pdf documents are not the easiest to handle.

Sofi Oksanen, whose talk is tomorrow, is hosted by Syn og Segn. From what I gather, she will be accentuating the people-trafficking side of feminism, one which affected many Eastern European women who went into prostitution. Oksanen feels that in Eastern Europe, feminism has become a movement for the right to be a housewife or "babe". This discussion would appear to cut across the left-right political divide. Authors such as Elo Viiding and Eeva Park have examined some of these issues in Estonia.