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Bergen International Literary Festival 6–9 FebruarY 2020




Bergen International Literary Festival for Non-Fiction and Fiction 6– 9 februarY 2020 litfestbergen.no facebook.com/litfestbergen instagram.com/litfestbergen The Bergen House of Literature Ă˜stre Skostredet 5-7 Bergen, Norway www.litfestbergen.no Theme, 2020: Everyday

Everyday You've left the big storms behind you now. You didn't ask then why you were born where you came from, where you were going to You were just there in the storm, in the fire But it's possible to live in the everyday as well in the grey quiet day set potatoes, rake leaves carry brushwood. There's so much to think about here in the world, one life is not enough for it all. After work you can fry pork and read Chinese poems. Old Laertes cut briars, dug round his fig trees, and let the heroes fight on at Troy. Olav H. Hauge Published by ANVIL Translated by Robin Fulton



Administration Teresa Grøtan, festival and managing director Britt Kristin Ese, communication consultant Helene Hovden Hareide, temporary communication consultant Sandra Lillebø, programme consultant Laia Nùñez Sebastiá, production consultant Board Birthe Kåfjord Lange, chair Marta Breen Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde Arne Selvik Gunnar Sørbø Norwegian advisory board Pedro Carmona-Alvarez Jan H. Landro Espen Stueland Eirik Vassenden Gunnhild Øyehaug International advisory board Leila Guerriero (Argentina) Daniel Medin (USA/France) Jonny Steinberg (South Africa/Great Britain) Ece Temelkuran (Turkey) Alisa Ganieva (Russia) English translations: Rolf Gooderham Major sponsors: The Bergen House of Literature, Bergen municipality, Vestland county, Arts Council Norway, Sparebanken Vest, Fritt Ord Foundation Also supported by: H. Westfal-Larsen og Hustru Anna Westfal-Larsen’s Almennyttige Fond, Norwegian Non-Fiction and Translators Association, Bergesenstiftelsen

Reclaiming the ordinary Teresa Grøtan Festival director

Twenty years ago, in February 2000, I moved to Durban in South Africa to study. A few days after my arrival, I went out to eat with two new friends. I had lived in the USA and found it difficult to understand the various English accents. So when the waiter spoke to me, I asked him to talk instead with the two others. He gave me a strange look, and continued addressing me throughout the evening despite my constant requests that he repeat himself. It was only later that the possible reason occurred to me. The waiter was white and so was I, while one of my companions ranked in South African terminology as coloured and the other as black. This incident began to raise my awareness of the way political structures interact with people’s ordinary lives, and how our daily habits and behaviour are far more difficult to change than political decrees. Although I moved to South Africa six years after apartheid had been overthrown, serving black people was still difficult for that waiter. South Africa was infamous worldwide for its segregation policy, and had even given us the very word “apartheid”. Over the LitFestBergen weekend of 6-9 February, we will be celebrating the 30th anni-


versary of the release of Nelson Mandela, the world’s most famous political prisoner – an event which marked the end of the racist regime. We have our own history of racism in Norway, although it is not so well-known worldwide. The goal here was to assimilate the Sami, the indigenous inhabitants of Sámpi, into a Norwegian everyday life based on Norwegian language and culture. The UN has found that the Sami languages are today on the verge of dying out or seriously endangered, and little doubt prevails about the way this racist policy has affected Sami literature. Throughout the ages, a key strategy for repressive regimes worldwide has been to restrict and hamper creative people by making their daily lives difficult. Present examples are Hong Kong, Kashmir and Russia, which will be addressed at this festival. Our human existence is rooted in the ordinary. Exerting personal control over our everyday existence gives us the power to create. On 6 February 2020, the opening day of LitFestBergen, we celebrate sámi álbmotbeaivi, the Sami National Day. That will also highlight the theme of this year’s festival – the ordinary.

Ho w do I bu y a t ick e t ? • Click on the ticket link at litfestbergen.no • Download the LinTicket app (only available in Norwegian). Under “steder” select Litteraturhuset i Bergen, and click on the programme to find tickets. • Before the festival: Buy in Boksalongen, the book shop at the Bergen House of Literature (Litteraturhuset). • During the festival: Buy directly from the festival office at Vestre Skostredet 2, next to the Bergen House of Literature.

W h at t ick e t shoul d I choo se ?

Drop by Boksalongen for browsing, coffee breaks and book signings by visiting authors throughout the festival.

Festival pass: With a festival pass, you can attend all events provided spare capacity is available. Price: NOK 1 300 (students: NOK 650). Remember to exchange the festival pass you buy online or via the app with a wristband at the festival office before the event starts. If you buy a festival pass with the student discount, you must present a valid student identification card when you collect your wristband. Guarantee ticket: If you have a festival pass, you can secure a place for an individual event by purchasing a guarantee ticket. Price: NOK 20 (except “Around the world in 80 minutes”, where it costs NOK 200 to cover the cost of food from Colonialen). You can buy a guarantee ticket via the app, from the festival office or in the Boksalongen bookshop. Single ticket: Gives entry to an individual event.

Opening times, festival office: • Wednesday, 5 Feb: 11.00-21.00 • Thursday, 6 Feb: 11.00-21.00 • Friday, 7 Feb: 11.00-21.00 • Saturday, 8 Feb: 11.00-21.00 • Sunday, 9 Feb: 11.00-15.00 The independent bookshop at the Bergen House of Literature.




Address: Vestre Skostredet 2

T H U R S D AY 6 F E B R U A R Y

Youth programme

Lynda’s journey

My mother and I

Official opening of LitFestBergen 2020

Lynda Blackmon Lowery was only 15 when she and many others marched along with Martin Luther King from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama to demand voting rights for black Americans. This event is recalled in her memoir Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom.

In 2017, 593 people took their own lives in Norway. One was the mother of author Tiril Broch Aakre. Why do some of us choose to end it all? Is there anything one can do to prevent this happening? And how does it feel to those left behind?

Welcome to the opening of the second Bergen International Literary Festival for Non-Fiction and Fiction. The ceremony includes performances by festival authors Frode Grytten (Bergen), Tishani Doshi (Chennai), Niillas Holmberg and Mir-O (Sápmi/Finland) and speeches by Teresa Grøtan, festival director, and Kristin Helle-Valle, managing director of the Bergen House of Literature.

In this conversation with pupils from Rothaugen lower secondary school, Lowery talks about her experiences from that time, what has changed – and what remains the same.

Broch Aakre relates what happened when her mother died in her novel Mødre og døtre. In this conversation with pupils from Rothaugen lower secondary school, she will try to answer questions about what is perhaps the most difficult subject of all.

Auditorium and Ol av H Hauge

Ol av H Hauge and Auditorium

Thursday 6 February 09.15–10.00 and 10.15–11.00

Thursday 6 February 09.15–10.00 and 10.15–11.00

Free of charge (by invitation only) English

Free of charge (by invitation only) Norwegian

Thursday 6 February 18.00–18.45 Free of charge English/Norwegian

L i s t e n i n g p o s t:

English literature from the whole world The Listening Post (Lytteposten) is LitFestBergen’s free offer to those who would like to listen to literature from around the world. Find a space, lean back, and listen to four of the festival’s writers in English read from their work. With Tishani Doshi (India), Mary Ruefle (USA), Raja Shehadeh (Palestine) and Jonny Steinberg (South Africa).





Thursday 6 February 19.00–19.45 Free of charge English

Government-certified memories At a time when the Russian government is seeking to create a patriotic, homogenous version of national history, Maria Stepanova takes a completely different direction in her latest book. Through everyday object and experiences, she explores her own Russo-Jewish family history.

Thursday 6 February 19.15–20.15 NOK 150 English

Hong Kong has been a leading trade and financial centre for decades. In June 2019, the government of the former British colony presented a bill on extradition to China. That unleashed massive but peaceful demonstrations which eventually led to further demands for democratic reforms. What will happen when the city state becomes a full part of China in 2047? Lawyers Antony Dapiran and Jason Y Ng in Hong Kong have both recently published books on the protest movement. They are at LitFestBergen to tell us what is happening and what the future might bring. Their conversation will be moderated by Kjersti Løken Stavrum, chair of Norwegian PEN.

Thursday 6 February 19.15–20.15 NOK 150 Norwegian

NOK 150 English

L ec t u r es o f t h e day:

My dear Damascus The Syrians call it al-azma – the crisis. That encompasses not only the country’s civil war, but also its colossal socioeconomic collapse since the protests began in 2011. In this lecture, based on her book My House in Damascus, British journalist and author Diana Darke explains how the Arab Spring in Syria ended in a gruesome conflict and what ordinary life in wartime – because it does exist – is like.

Life at local level Ol av H Hauge

Thursday 6 February 20.00–20.45

Stepanova meets Ingunn Lunde, professor of Russian, for a conversation about the way the individual’s experience collides with the state’s monopolisation of the collective memory.

What’s happening in Hong Kong? Auditorium


Local authority serves in Norway as a synonym for every­ thing boring, grey and old – like the paint flaking off the concrete walls of council buildings nationwide. So why is there such uproar when local government boundaries are redrawn? The answer might perhaps be found in Hvis du hadde bodd her hadde du vært hjemme nå, the collection of poems written by Kjersti Bjørkmo on the basis of Norwegian local authority mottos. She meets Jens Kihl, author of Dette er også Noreg. Kommunal feelgood, for a conversation moderated by Trond-Viggo Torgersen.



Ol av H Hauge

Thursday 6 February 20.30–21.00 NOK 100 English


Thursday 6 February 20.30–21.15 NOK 150 English

Everyday life after the violence

This is also a refugee

To create politically relevant literature, says Njabulo Ndebele, the author must be attentive to nuances in ordinary people’s lives. His genre-busting novel, The Cry of Winnie Mandela, is regarded as one of the most important books published in South Africa since the fall of apartheid. It tells the story of three “ordinary” women and one extraordinary one – Winnie Mandela – and asks whether South Africa can be a home after all the violence, the exiles, the destruction.

How does one become a successful refugee? A displaced child often has to balance personal needs against a responsibility for managing their family’s often dramatic history. After Nhu Diep and Pedro Carmona-Alvarez came to Norway as children from Vietnam and Chile respectively, they have been squeezed between these demands – but have also exploited the power inherent in them to create art and literature.

On the weekend of the festival, exactly 30 years have passed since Mandela was released from prison. Ndebele meets literary researcher Tonje Vold for a conversation on building an ordinary life in society and literature after the apartheid regime.


Thursday 6 February 21.00–22.00 Free of charge Norwegian/English /other languages

Confusion about art and class

LitFestBergen aims to be a festival where the familiar meets the unfamiliar, and where a dialogue is created between established and brand-new literary work.

Can authors write about whatever and whoever they want, precisely how they want? This is the issue Jens M Johansson explores in his latest novel, Lavterskeltilbud. He tells the story of 46-year-old author Adam Berg, who decides to write a masterpiece about the working class. But how? Johansson comes to LitFestBergen to talk about class, art and representation, and why these questions are utterly laughable. Sandra Lillebø will conduct the interview.

Register at info@litfestbergen.no.


Thursday 6 February 21.15–22.15 NOK 150 Norwegian

How can you be yourself when straddling two languages and two cultures? Carmona-Alvarez writes about this experience in his latest work, Refrenger, while Diep is working on a book on the same subject. They meet for a conversation with Eivind Riise Hauge.

Open mike

This evening, Fredrik S Hagen invites recognised and less well-known authors in Bergen – and the world – to take the microphone. Use the festival’s open offer and let your voice be heard. The event opens with a reading by Syrian poet Khaled Khalifa.

Ol av H Hauge



Thursday 6 February 21.30–22.15 NOK 150 Norwegian

F R I D AY 7 F E B R U A R Y The ideal Norwegian state Alver

Thursday 6 February 21.30–22.15 Free of charge English

Den Norske Idealstaten (2017-2020) is an art project rewriting Plato’s Republic with the people of Norway. The Alt Går Bra group of artists has discussed visions and dreams for a better society with Norwegian residents nationwide. Inspired by these conversations, the artists have produced artwork such as drawings, paintings, installations, textiles and a book.

Youth programme

Based in Bergen, Paris and London, Alt Går Bra is attending LitFestBergen to talk about this unique project and to show some of the artwork in the form of local authority coats of arms and banners.

Growing up under apartheid

Youth programme: In other words

Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 marked the beginning of the end for the apartheid regime and several centuries of brutal oppression for South Africa’s black population. To many young people, who had never known any other system, this was a big transformation.

School pupils in Bergen are invited on a very different city walk, guided by Mauritian performance artist and architect Doung Anwar Jahangeer. He offers the opportunity to view Bergen, the world, life, the houses and the sea – everyday life – with a new and open eye.

What was it like to be a child or young person in a country with a strict colour bar? Professor Njabulo Ndebele, head of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, converses with pupils from Rothaugen lower secondary school.

The city will never look the same again.

Olav H. Hauge

Friday 7 February 09.15–10.00 Free of charge (by invitation only) English



the festival office (Vestre Skostredet 2)

Friday 7 February 09.15–11.15 Free of charge (by invitation only) English

W r i t i n g c o u rs e :

How can memories make literature? Memoirs have not become an established form in Norway, and are often published as a novel or an essay. What sort of genre are they, actually? How can personal memories be turned into good literature?


Friday 7 February 13.00–16.00 NOK 200 Norwegian

This practical course will provide a brief introduction to the form, and allow you to try memoir writing through simple exercises. The tutor is Kjersti Wold, author of Skriv ditt liv and 19 other books in various genres. The course is open to all. No previous experience is necessary. Maximum 20 participants.

Writing about life Ol av H. Hauge

Friday 7 February 12.00–12.45 NOK 150 Norwegian

During his long career as an author, Thorvald Steen has been particularly well-known for his historical novels. In recent years, however, he has increasingly derived his subject matter from his own life and family history, as in Det hvite badehuset and Det siste fotografiet. Why fictionalise something which really happened? And how can one write close to the truth when the genre is regarded as fiction? In this conversation with Berit Bareksten, Steen talks about illness, life and experience, and how literature is created.

L ect u r es o f t h e day:

Common sense and contempt Alver

Friday 7 February 12.15–12.45 NOK 100 Norwegian

What is rhetorical power? What is its significance for freedom of speech? And what is needed for society’s silent voices to be heard? Anders Johansen, professor of non-fiction studies at the University of Bergen, published Komme til orde. Politisk retorikk 1814-1913 in 2019. With that book as his starting point, Johansen talks in this lecture about some rhetorical battles in Norwegian political history and what determines who wins.


In collaboration with the Norwegian Non-Fiction Writers and Translators Association.


South African literature and literary criticism What significance does a concept like truth acquire in a country where power has lain with the few at the expense of the many? Critic and University of Cape Town academic Hedley Twidle has recently published Experiments with Truth, where he explores the strong position of narrative non-fiction in South Africa. In this lecture, Twidle will discuss the development of South African fiction, non-fiction and literary criticism since the fall of apartheid in 1994. It will be followed by questions from the audience, moderated by literary researcher Tonje Vold. Entry is free for critics, who can reserve a seat by registering with info@litfestbergen.no.


Ol av H Hauge

Friday 7 February 13.00–15.00 NOK 150 English

Alltag Die schweren Stürme hast du hinter dir. Damals fragtest du nicht, warum es dich gab, wo du herkamst oder wohin du gingst, du warst im Sturm nur, warst im Feuer. Aber es läßt sich auch im Alltag leben dem grauen, stillen Tag, Kartoffeln setzen, Laub harken und Reisig tragen, es gibt so viel zu bedenken auf der Welt, ein Menschenleben reicht nicht aus. Nach der Arbeit kannst du Speck braten und chinesische Verse lesen. Der alte Laertes beschnitt Heckenrosen, grub um die Feigenbäume und ließ die Helden bei Troja kämpfen.

Every day in a state of emergency Auditorium

Friday 7 February 13.00–14.45 Free of charge English

Kashmir is a state split between India and Pakistan. Since 1990, a brutal military regime has traumatised the mostly Muslim population living on the Indian side. Tens of thousands of people have been killed, thousands more have disappeared, been tortured or raped. Indian Kashmir lost its last vestiges of democracy and the rule of law in August 2019, and all communication and movement are now strictly controlled by the military. Writers Sanaah Sultan and Nitasha Kaul are Kashmiris of Muslim and Hindu background respectively. They will read some of their work and discuss conditions in their home region with Salil Tripathi, journalist, writer and chair of PEN International’s writers in prison committee. A 15 minute break will be taken halfway through the programme. In collaboration with Norwegian PEN and the Rafto Foundation for Human Rights.

Olav H. Hauge Horst Heiderhoff Verlag, Translated by Andreas Struve

P e r fo r m a n c e :

In other words Festival office ( Vestre Skostredet 2)

Friday 7 February 14.00–16.00 NOK 200 English

Join a city walk with a difference, guided by Mauritian performance artist and architect Doung Anwar Jahangeer. In poetic interplay with author Odd Eirik Færevåg, Jahangeer offers the opportunity to view Bergen, the world, life, the houses and the sea – everyday life – with a new and open eye. The city will never look the same again. Following the walk, Maria Molden, Bergen’s municipal architect, and Jahangeer invite participants to an informal chat about the city at the festival cafe, Zinken Hopp. Maximum 15 participants



O p e n i n g:

PEN postcard campaign Zinken Hopp

Friday 7 February 15.00–17.00 Free of charge English

Norwegian PEN and LitFestBergen invite you to send a greeting to authors, journalists and bloggers who have been imprisoned or are being threatened and persecuted worldwide. This postcard campaign will be opened by Salil Tripathi, chair of the committee for imprisoned authors at PEN International and Kjersti Løken Stavrum, chair of Norwegian PEN. The cards have been created by PEN members and authors seeking refuge in Norway through Icorn. Opening times, postcard campaign: Friday 15.00-17.00 Saturday 12.00-14.00 Sunday 12.00-14.00

L ec t u r es o f t h e day:

People on parade

In collaboration with Norwegian PEN.

Putting “exotic” ethnic groups on show was an established practice in Europe during the 19th century. In På ville veger?, researcher Cathrine Baglo writes about how this fate also befell Norway’s Sami.

L ect u r es o f t h e day:

Hong Kong’s young demonstrators Ol av H Hauge

Friday 7 February 15.15-15.45 NOK 100 English

Who are the young people demonstrating daily in Hong Kong? Activist, lawyer and author Jason Y Ng has written several books on the city. The latest, Unfree Speech, was co-authored with Joshua Wong, the 23-year-old student activist and leader of the demonstrations in his home town.

How was that experienced by those affected? With her book as the starting point, Baglo talks in this lecture about “exoticising” and normality, and that there are more sides to the story than those which might seem the most obvious.

What is it about the world today which gets very young people to speak out fearlessly against injustice? In this lecture, Ng talks about Hong Kong, Joshua Wong and the young demonstrators.

Death, every day Syrian author Khaled Khalifa is one of the few who can leave his homeland but chooses not to. He ranks as one of Syria’s greatest living authors, and a chronicler of the present war. His most recent novel, Death is Hard Work, deals with a grotesque and burlesque-like road trip from Damascus to Anabiya with a corpse in the baggage. Khalifa meets Syria expert, journalist and author Diana Darke for a conversation on what happens when death becomes commonplace.




Friday 7 February 15.45–16.15 NOK 100 Norwegian

Ol av Hauge

Friday 7 February 16.00–17.00 NOK 150 English

What happened to mother? Alver

Friday 7 February 16.15–17.00 NOK 150 Norwegian

Vulnerable children and fragile families have been a recurrent theme in Tiril Broch Aakre’s literary output. In the autumn of 2019, she published Mødre og døtre, an autobiographical novel about what occurred when her own mother committed suicide in 2016. In this conversation with fellow author Selma Lønning Aarø, Aakre talks about the double deprivation of having, and then losing, a mentally ill mother and about how suicide can be discussed in daily life and literature.

C r i t i ca l Qua rt e t:

How to translate the commonplace? How can ordinary talk – ranging from the specific and objective to deep-seated cultural phenomena, like the very concept of “the ordinary” – be translated from one language to another? What if specialist jargon is not the most difficult aspect to convey in a different tongue? Author Laila Stien translates from northern Sami to Norwegian, while Synneve Sundby turns French into Norwegian. They meet for a conversation moderated by author and translator Grethe Fatima Syéd.

Festival special Auditorium

Friday 7 February 16.30–17.45 NOK 150 English

The Critical Quartet is the Bergen House of Literature’s regular forum for literary criticism, with a panel comprising Ida Lødemel Tvedt, Eirik Vassenden and Frode Helmich Pedersen. In this special edition, they will be joined by South African critic Hedley Twidle to consider three festival-relevant books in a critical and enthusiastic discussion. Raja Shehadeh: Palestinian Walks (2008) Marie Darrieussecq: Our Life in the Forest (2017) Mary Ruefle: Madness, Rack and Honey (2013)

A difficult reconciliation Ol av H Hauge

Friday 7 February 17.15–18.15 NOK 150 English

Work is under way in the truth and reconciliation commission for the Sami, Kvens (north Norwegians of Finnish descent) and Norwegian-Finns. In South Africa, they also opted for a truth and reconciliation commission in the wake of apartheid, rather than using the courts. What does it actually take to restore trust between people after centuries of conflict and oppression? And what role can literature play in such a process? Harald Gaski, professor of Sami culture and literature, and Njabulo Ndebele, South African professor of literature and head of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, meet for a conversation on the role of law and art in the work of reconciliation. Their discussion will be moderated by media professor Kristin Skare Orgeret.  



Friday 7 February 17.30–18.30 Alver NOK 150 Norwegian

a head for poetry Auditorium

Friday 7 February 18.00–18.45 NOK 150 English

“Place isn’t important,” Mary Ruefle has declared in an interview with The White Review. “I tend to write in my head, which I can carry with me wherever I go.” She has produced a number of poetry collections and essays which demonstrate time and again her ability to use language to twist expectations and create new, subtle and deep connections.

Olav H. Hauge Forlag: Shilchon Munhak-sa, oversetter Hwang Jung-a

In this conversation with author and critic Ida Lødemel Tvedt, Ruefle talks about why and how she writes.

L ect u r es o f t h e day:

Literary voyage of discovery Alver

Friday 7 February 18.45–19.15 NOK 100 Norwegian

In her book Å lese verden, Tonje Vold offers the reader an alternative approach to understanding world literature. By donning new spectacles, we discover that other ways exist to read the classics, and appreciate not least the significant role literature can play for power, resistance and liberation. In this lecture, Vold talks about what happens when we construct our literary world view – and when it collapses.



Semi-final in Norwegian poetry slam championship

O p e n i n g,

Lydgalleriet (the Sound Gallery) Writing Game Lydgalleriet (Østre Skostredet 3)

Friday 7 February 19.00–20.00 Free of charge Norwegian

SKRIVESPILL (Writing Game) is a new sound music installation where the relationship to language and differences in our way of comprehending cross-cutting conversations in everyday life take centre-stage. The video installation contains sequences filmed while students at the Academy of Creative Writing in Hordaland were at lunch. Creative writing is discussed partly in gaming terms, with fictive dialogues which serve as sound elements in the room. Brief dialogue sequences meet each other as airy, fragmentary discussions on writing methods, with questions and misunderstandings, confusion and interruptions – with comments on food as a constant, insistent refrain. Ingrid Berven has a background in music and visual art, and has invited author and playwright Cecilie Løveid to participate in SKRIVESPILL. In collaberation with Lydgalleriet.

The accidental dancer Auditorium

Friday 7 February 19.15–20.15 NOK 150 English

“I started late, at 26, but immediately understood that dance was going to exert an influence over every area of my life, particularly literature,” writes Indian poet, novelist and dancer Tishani Doshi in an essay written for the LitFestBergen catalogue. Her latest novel, Small Days and Nights, is a story of sorrow, anger and impossible ideals about what a nation could be, and she has created a new dance production based on this book. After performing it, Doshi talks with Tora de Zwart Rørholt about the relationship between life, dance and literature.


A slam lies somewhere at the intersection between poetry readings, rap and spoken word. During this semifinal, competitors present their own texts in Norwegian or English. Performance counts as much as the textual content.

Ol av H Hauge

Friday 7 February 19.30–22.30 Free of charge Norwegian/English

The competition is open to everyone, regardless of age or experience. Host for the evening is Heidi Marie Vestrheim, who will select groups of jurors from among the audience. They will choose who can claim the title of west Norwegian poetry slam champion. The winner will take part in the national final in Oslo next autumn. Sign up at info@litfestbergen.no

Leonard Cohen: everyday life of the artist Under a commission from LitFestBergen, author and musician Pedro Carmona-Alvarez has brought together fellow musicians Annlaug Børsheim, Rune Solberg, Kim Guldbrandsen and Inge Rypdal to create a musical-literary performance based on Leonard Cohen’s work. Songs, poems, anecdotes and retellings succeed each other to give the audience an insight into Cohen’s artistic life, and to present his writing and music from the cradle to the grave. Cohen’s signature drink, a Red Needle, will be on sale in the Zinken Hopp festival bar, where a Cohen warm-up session begins at 19.00.



Friday 7 February 21.00–22.15 NOK 200 Norwegian

Saturday 8 February

LitFest mini

S AT U R D AY 8 F E B R U A R Y i n t h e B e r g e n P u b l i c L i b r a r y

The Taste Workshop’s “sense trail”

How babies are made

Seed and dream

Commissioned work: The fight for attention

Can you rely on your sense of taste when you can’t see what you’re eating? Take the Taste Workshop’s fun and exciting trail and put your senses to the test.

Everyone has once been a baby, and great numbers of babies are born every single day worldwide. But how are they actually created? With hammer and nails? With clay? Or with sperm and eggs? Anna Fiske draws and talks about what happens when babies are conceived.

Pi is eager to buy some mysterious dream seeds, but they’re not for sale. At least, not for money – but if she gives away her little brother ...

Amalie Holt Kleive is a jazz singer who creates electronic dance bars and emotionally moving music. She is an artist who takes her audience on a beautiful journey.

The seeds grow into a fantastic tree which climbs right into a magical dream world. Unfortunately, a door also leads from dreams to nightmares. Drømmetreet is just scary enough for the youngest children. Bjørn Ousland has won a number of prizes for his books and is an experienced communicator.

In this work, specially commissioned for the LitFestBergen children’s programme, Holt Kleive asks how technology in the form of new mobile phones, games, iPads and the like affect the daily lives of children. What happens to physical contact between child and parents? And what happens when you have to compete for each other’s attention because phones and tablets are more exciting and fascinating?

Are you able to tell the difference between broccoli and cauliflower? Can you distinguish different herbs and spices from each other? Taste, smell and feel your way through various stations which challenge your senses. Perhaps you’ll find a new favourite flavour? Join us and play with your food.

Fiske is an award-winning author, illustrator and comic strip artist, and a warm and entertaining communicator. She is behind a number of illustrated books and comic strips which are favourites with many children and adults.

Saturday 8 February 11.30-13.00

Saturday 8 February 13.00–13.30

Saturday 8 February 14.00–14.30

Saturday 8 February 15.00–15.30

Bergen Public Libr ary / Urom Free of charge Suitable for all children and adults

Bergen Public Libr ary / Auditorium Free of charge / From the age of four

Bergen Public Libr ary / Auditorium Free of charge / From the age of four

Bergen Public Libr ary / Music room Free of charge / From the age of three



PEN postcard campaign

L ect u r es o f t h e day:

Eilert Sundt and ordinary life in Norway Alver

Saturday 8 February 12.00–12.30 NOK 100 Norwegian

Sociologist and priest Eilert Sundt was a pioneer in studying everyday Norwegian life, and is regarded as the founder of sociology in Norway. In this lecture, author and critic Espen Stueland talks about his work on Eilert Sundt-tilstanden – a book in verse about research which has renewed the format and attracted critical praise.

Norwegian PEN and LitFestBergen invite you to send a greeting to authors, journalists and bloggers who have been imprisoned or are being threatened and persecuted worldwide. The cards have been created by PEN members and authors seeking refuge in Norway through Icorn.

Zinken Hopp

Saturday 8 February 12.00–14.00 Free of charge English

Opening times, postcard campaign: Friday 15.00-17.00 Saturday 12.00-14.00 Sunday 12.00-14.00 In collaboration with Norwegian PEN.

C l as s i c l i t e r at u r e l ec t u r e :

“She gather me, the pieces I am” Ol av H Hauge

Saturday 8 February 12.00–12.45 NOK 100 Norwegian

What is self-awareness? Where does an “I” begin and end? In her books, recently deceased Nobel literature laureate Toni Morrison demonstrated that nobody is entirely themselves alone. In this lecture, author and critic Kaja Schjerven Mollerin talks about the insights into I-awareness and community provided by Morrison’s works.

Who owns nature? Auditorium

Saturday 8 February 12.00–13.00 NOK 150 Norwegian

Climate change has cast new light on the issue of resource allocation. When goods such as cultivable land, clean air and water become scarce, can the human relationship to owning nature continue to be defined in the same way? Who actually owns nature, and what does such ownership mean?

Life is everywhere In La mer à l’envers, the latest novel by France’s Marie Darrieussecq, the female protagonist – a psychologist in her 40s – takes a Mediterranean cruise. The ship picks up a boatful of migrants one night, and she gets to know the young Nigerian Younes. How can you know that you’re doing the right thing for yourself and others? Darrieussecq’s books are among the most read in her generation. Since her literary debut in 1996, she has written a number of works in various genres, from the linguistically experimental, via art novels and books on cloning, to essays on motherhood. She meets critic and translator Margunn Vikingstad for a conversation on her writing.

In his writing, Sigbjørn Skåden has been very preoccupied with the question of nature management seen from a Sami perspective. He meets climate scientist Bjørn Samset for a conversation moderated by author and journalist Kjersti Sandvik.




Saturday 8 February 12.45–13.30 NOK 150 English

My best decade Ketil Bjørnstad is in the process of completing his novel cycle Verden som var min, which is as much a history of the Norway he has lived in as of himself. What reflections does he have about the age we live in and the time which is behind us?


Saturday 8 February 13.15–14.00 NOK 150 Norwegian

Bjørnstad meets journalist Kari Birkeland for a conver­ sation about Norway before and now, about which decade was actually the best to live in – and what was best to write about.

Occupied life P e r fo r m a n c e :

In other words Saturday 8 February 13.00–15.00 Festival office ( Vestre Skostredet 2) NOK 200 English

Join a city walk with a difference, guided by Mauritian performance artist and architect Doung Anwar Jahangeer. In poetic interplay with author Odd Eirik Færevåg, Jahangeer offers the opportunity to view Bergen, the world, life, the houses and the sea – everyday life – with a new and open eye. The city will never look the same again. Maximum of 15 participants.

Ol av H Hauge NOK 150 English


Saturday 8 February 14.00–15.00 NOK 150 English

Shehadeh and Johnson meet Palestine researcher Kjersti G Berg in conversation.

Coming home to your language

Racism in the USA then and now Saturday 8 February 13.00–13.45

What is living in Palestine like following 50 years of Israeli occupation? After spending several decades in Ramallah, married couple Raja Shehadeh and Penny Johnson have each written a personal account of how life has changed – for both people and animals – but also how an occupied life becomes an everyday existence.

When Lynda Blackmon Lowery marched with Martin Luther King from Selma in Alabama in 1965, she was only 15 years old – but she knew what justice was, and knew she wanted it. Lowery relates this in her graphic memoir Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom. She has lived through – and participated in – major upheavals in US history. What was it like then, and what it is like being black in America in 2020?

The Sami in Norway were subjected for decades to a brutal and oppressive Norwegianisation policy, and denied the right to speak their own tongue. What have the conse­ quences been for the use of Sami in everyday speech and as a literary language? And how does a Norwegian-Sami writer choose which language to use today? Authors Risten Sokki and Sigbjørn Skåden meet for a conversation with literature professor Harald Gaski as moderator.

Lowery talks with critic Kaja Schjerven Mollerin about the experience of marching with Dr King, and life in the US South today.



Ol av H Hauge

Saturday 8 February 14.00–15.00 NOK 150 Norwegian

L i s t e n i n g p o s t:

French literature Auditorium

Saturday 8 February 14.15–14.45 Free of charge French/English

The Listening Post (Lytteposten) is LitFestBergen’s free offer to those who need a break from the festival programme – but don’t want to take one. Find a space, lean back, and listen to two of the festival’s writers in French read from their work. With Patrick Chamoiseau (Martinique) and Marie Darrieussecq (France).

T h e wo r l d o n Sat u r day:

Europe, what now? Auditorium

Saturday 8 February 15.00–16.15 NOK 150 Norwegian

The European community has been in the forefront of the world’s economic and cultural development for several centuries. In recent decades, however, the curves have been sloping down in several areas – unemployment rising, extremism advancing and reactionary forces making their mark electorally. Authors Ingrid Brekke, Nazneen Khan-Østrem and Vibeke Knoop Rachline are in the news with books on Poland, the UK and France respectively. They meet for a conversation on Brexit, migration and terrorism in Europe, moderated by Kjersti Løken Stavrum.

A language of his own When Patrick Chamoiseau was a young schoolboy in French Martinique, the Creole that the locals spoke in their daily lives had little space. How do you find your own language as an author when the words you use are unacknowledged and you belong to a population which has been oppressed and kept as slaves for several centuries?

Ol av H Hauge

Saturday 8 February 15.15–16.15 NOK 150 French/English

In this conversation with translator Synneve Sundby, Chamoiseau talks about the route to writing, about gender, Creoleness and what literature can mean.

L i s t e n i n g p o s t:

Arabic literature The Listening Post (Lytteposten) is LitFestBergen’s free offer to those who need a break from the festival programme – but don’t want to take one. Find a space, lean back, and listen to two of the festival’s writers in Arabic read from their work in English translation. With Khaled Khalifa (Syria) and Mazen Maarouf (Lebanon).




Saturday 8 February 15.15–15.45 Free of charge English

Man, woman and art Britain’s Leonora Carrington and Germany’s Paula M Becker were artists who often found themselves overshadowed by their male colleagues. Two innovative biographies capture – and challenge – their lives and art anew. Susanne Christensen published Leonoras reise, a biography of the surrealist artist, last year. She meets French author Marie Darrieussecq, who recently published her biography of Paula M Becker entitled Being Here is Everything in English. Their conversation will be moderated by literary researcher Kari Jegerstedt.

River and life Alver

Saturday 7 February 16.15–17.00 NOK 150 English

Esther Kinsky’s novel River is a flowing series of reflections over life, landscapes and people. The protagonist walks along the River Lea outside London while observing plants and people and recalling the rivers she has lived besides and what once was. Kinsky is a novelist, poet and translator. She meets literary researcher Daniel Medin for a conversation on language, writing, literature and psychogeography.

The meaning of Mandela Auditorium

Saturday 8 February 16.30–17.30 NOK 150 English

February 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s liberation from 27 years in prison. He has since been acclaimed by the whole world as the great reconciler. But many people in the “born free” generation – who came into the world after the fall of apartheid – take a less positive view of him. Njabulo Ndebele, author and head of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Jonny Steinberg, South African non-fiction author and Oxford professor, and Koleka Putuma, South African poet and activist, engage in a conversation about who Mandela was – and what he means today. Their discussion will be moderated by Teresa Grøtan, author and LitFestBergen director.



Ol av H Hauge

Saturday 8 February 17.00–18.00 NOK 150 English


Saturday 8 February 17.15–17.45 NOK 100 Norwegian

L ect u r es o f t h e day:

L ec t u r es o f t h e day:

Germany after Merkel

Life with the animals

Angela Merkel has governed Germany since 2005, but has now stepped down as party leader and is not standing for re-election. While her own party is grappling with a leader­ ship crisis, the social democrats are heading for the abyss and the Greens and right-wing populists have made big gains. What does German party politics look like today? And how difficult will life be for those taking over after Merkel?

Penny Johnson has explored the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a highly unusual slant – the animals trying to survive in the occupied territories.

Ingrid Brekke is an author and journalist resident in Berlin. In this lecture, she addresses how the changes in Germany will affect Europe’s future.

Saturday 8 February 17.45–18.30 NOK 150 English

How do you write humorously about the grotesque character of everyday life in wartime? How can you dream when reality insistently intrudes? In his short story collection Jokes for the Gunmen, Palestinian­-Icelander Mazen Maarouf writes with humour, force and intelligence about daily life in the midst of war. He meets literary researcher Daniel Medin for a conversation about how laughter can save us from reality, but also teach us something new.


Saturday 8 February 18.00–18.30 NOK 100 English

Blood, sweat and writing Perhaps only one subject carries a greater cultural taboo than female menstruation – its ending. Why should that be?

Dreams from the war Auditorium

In this lecture, she talks about illegal cows, detained donkeys, beautiful camels and hunted hyenas – and how people and animals in Palestine share a fate at times which is both grotesque and absurd.


Mexican Gloria Gervitz and American Mary Ruefle write their way through life. Gervitz has spent 40 years composing the long poem Migrations, while Ruefle has published a number of essays and poetry collections. They write about childhood and old age, sex and masturbation, blood and the menopause, with deep gravity or unrestrained humour. The pair meet literary scholar and gender researcher Kari Jegerstedt for a conversation on literary hot flushes.



Saturday 8 February 18.45–19.45 NOK 150 English


Saturday 8 February 18.45–19.30 NOK 150 English

Murder in Bethlehem

Confinement as a daily experience

Two innocent men were convicted of murder in Bethlehem, South Africa, in 1992. Their release did not come until 2011, to a nation which in the meantime had moved from apartheid to democracy.

What does “ordinary life” mean to someone in prison, where each day is like another at the same time as nothing is normal? In cooperation with LitFestBergen, convicts in the Bergen and Bjørgvin prisons have written about their everyday experiences over the past year.

Jonny Steinberg has written a number of books on ordinary people, their lives and their everyday experiences since apartheid was abolished. He talks with Hedley Twidle about his most recent book, One Day in Bethlehem, and about race, class and representation in South Africa during the 2000s.


Saturday 8 February 19.45–20.45 NOK 150 Norwegian

One of these writers is Bjørn Dahl in Bjørgvin prison, who meets his creative writing teacher Annette Mattsson and Bergen prison librarian Eivind Riise Hauge for a conversation about everyday and literary confines. Some of the texts from the writing project will be read out. The moderator is Ida Lødemel Tvedt.

Shaman encounter in Siberia Shamanism is an official religion of Tuva in Siberia. Author, globetrotter and martial arts enthusiast MiRee Abrahamsen has visited this republic in the Russian federation to find out what role shamanism plays today. A number of meetings gave her an insight into the religion, throat singing and slaughter techniques. She describes this in her travel book Sjamanen i stjerneregn - en reise til Asias sentrum. Abrahamsen meets Jan H Landro for a conversation on travelling and writing, on shamanism in Tuva – and on Shaman Durek, who is in a relationship with Norway’s Princess Märtha Louise.




Saturday 8 February 20.00–20.45 NOK150 norwegian

Poetic punk gala Ol av H hauge

Saturday 8 February 20.00–22.30 NOK 200 english and other languages

From ugly and angry to high-flown and laudatory – poets from 12 nations meet in a lyric world not found on any map. Participating poets: Maria Stepanova (Russia), Yin Wang (China), Niillas Holmberg (Sápmi/Finland), Fredrik Hagen (Norway), Tishani Doshi (India), Jason Byrne (UK), Espen Stueland (Norway), Koleka Putuma (South Africa), Erlend Nødtvedt (Norway), Esther Kinsky (Germany), Risten Sokki (Sápmi/Norway), Gloria Gervitz (Mexico/USA), and her translator Helene Hovden Hareide (Norway) and Ashur Etwebi (Libya) A 30-minute break will be taken halfway through the programme. Host: Heidi Bøhagen Scenography: Lise Kristensen • •

Law and liberty in Hong Kong and China Alver

Saturday 8 February 21.15–22.00 NOK 150 English

After more than a century as a British colony, Hong Kong was returned by the UK to China in 1997. How much does Beijing govern the city today and will there be anything left of its culture, language and freedom after China takes full control in 2047? Antony Dapiran has lived and worked as a commercial lawyer in China – both Beijing and Hong Kong – for more than 20 years, and has written several books on Hong Kong. In the latest, The City on Fire: The fight for Hong Kong (2020), he discusses what today’s protests will mean for the city’s future and China’s place in the world. He meets law professor Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde for a conversation on freedom, law and the constitutional state in difficult times.

Ask the author Wonder what Authors eat for inspiration? How they sleep, drink or ...? Now you have the chance to ask. Hosts for the evening are free-spoken booklovers Siss Vik and Frode Helmich Pedersen. With them on the stage are Jens M Johansson and Marit Eikemo, representing east and west Norwegian authors respectively. Vik and Helmich Pedersen will lead the questioning on matters large and small, and invite the audience to participate in detailed investigations of how an author’s day looks.

Saturday 8 February 21.15–22.30 NOK 150 Norwegian

N i g h t c h at:

Lars Saabye Christensen and Alf van der Hagen Night chats was a now-legendary series from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) during the 1990s, where Alf van der Hagen interviewed some of Norway’s most important contemporary authors. LitFestBergen has revived the conversation and provided room for an in-depth chat with Lars Saabye Christensen on life and literature during the final hour of the day. The event will also be transmitted to Olav H Hauge.





Saturday 8 February 23.00-24.00 NOK 150 Norwegian

s unday 9 F EBRUA RY Norway: a generational portrait

L ec t u r e s o f t h e day:

Terrorism’s victims alver

Sunday 9 February 12.00-12.30 NOK 100 Norwegian

Terrorists aim to attract negative attention, to create fear. How do their actions impact on those directly affected – the injured, the traumatised or the relatives? Vibeke Knoop Rachline is a journalist and author who lives in Paris and who recently published Terror i Europas hjerte. Drawing on this book, she talks about those who are quickly forgotten when the cameras turn away – the victims of terrorism.

Two of Norway’s leading authors, Ketil Bjørnstad and Lars Saabye Christensen, have each written a major novel cycle and generational portrait. How do they look back on the decades they have exerted such a big artistic influence on?


Sunday 9 February 12.00–13.00 NOK 150 Norwegian

The pair meet fellow author Selma Lønning Aarø for a conversation about everyday life as writers and artists in Norway around 2000.

PEN postcard campaign Poetic activism Ol av H Hauge

Sunday 9 February 12.00–13.00 NOK 150 English

South African poet Koleka Putuma arouses enthusiasm and anger in her homeland with her confrontational poems and intense on-stage presence. She is a member of the born free post-apartheid generation, and a sharp critic of those who believe that black and white, women and men, now have equal rights. Musician, poet and actor Niillas Holmberg insists that he comes from Finnish-occupied Sámpi. The collective mindset and contact with nature of the Sami occupy a central place in his artistic work. These two young authors will read their own poems and discuss poetics and politics with slam poet Michael W Opara, also known as Doriansgrave.


Norwegian PEN and LitFestBergen invite you to send a greeting to authors, journalists and bloggers who have been imprisoned or are being threatened and persecuted worldwide. The cards have been created by PEN members and authors seeking refuge in Norway through Icorn. Opening times, postcard campaign: Friday 15.00–17.00 Saturday 12.00–14.00 Sunday 12.00–14.00 In collaboration with Norwegian PEN.


Zinken Hopp

Sunday 9 February 12.00–14.00 Free of charge English


Sunday 9 February 14.00–15.00 NOK 150 English/Norwegian/Chinese

Mountain and sea. Poetry from Shanghai and Bergen Not unlike Bergen, Shanghai has been China’s most important stage for modern poetry. It is considered the birthplace of what is also known as New Poetry. This experiments with several styles, including free verse and the use of vernacular Chinese, as opposed to traditional works written in classical Chinese.

Light and dark Alver

Sunday 9 February 13.00–14.00 NOK 150 Norwegian

What is light? Where does it come from? And how has the hunt for and stories about light affected people’s lives? Climate scientist Bjørn Samset has written Lys to address these questions.

Two poets from Shanghai, Yin Wang and Sanshu Qin, will join Kristian S Hæggernes and Fredrik Hagen, both from Bergen, to read their poems with improvised music by cellist Matias Monsen and guzhengist Yuyue Zheng.

In her book Mørke, Sigri Sandberg asks what happens to us when it stays light around the clock and what we lose when the nights become too short. She meets Samset for a conversation moderated by Jan H Landro.

In collaboration with Northing.

Around the world in 80 minutes Ol av H Hauge

Sunday 9 February 13.30–15.00 NOK 350 (including fourcourse meal) Norwegian

Take a literary and culinary voyage covering the globe. Like Phileas Fogg in the famous novel Around the World in 80 Days, we head eastwards. Accompany Thorvald Steen to Istanbul, MiRee Abrahamsen to Kyzyl in Siberia, Susanne Christensen to Sidi Ifni in Morocco and Nazneen Khan-Østrem to London. A snack specially prepared by Colonialen accompanies each stop. In cooperation with the Colonialen restaurant.




Sunday 9 February 14.15–15.15 Free of charge Norwegian

Substance abuse and religion

A lyrical response

Some turn to Jesus, and some turn to heroin, Joni Mitchell sang in 1972. Kristine Hovda and Øystein Skjælaaen both published books during 2019 which deal with lifestyles on the fringes of what most people regard as ordinary.

Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize by Norway in 1991. The UN now accuses Myanmar, the country she leads, of genocide towards its Rohingya minority. Thousands have been killed and hundreds of thousands forced to flee.

In Jeg lever ikke lenger, Hovda writes about growing up with speaking in tongues, hymns and missions. For his part, Skjælaaen’s Meningen med rus visits places which begin serving alcohol when other people are starting work. Are these lives as different as they might appear? The two authors meet Grethe Fatima Syéd for a conversation. In cooperation with the Norwegian Non-Fiction Writers and Translators Association.


Sunday 9 February 15.30–16.15 NOK 150 English

Poet and translator James Byrne has given a creative writing course with Shehzar Doja in a camp for these refugees in neighbouring Bangladesh. The result is presented in I Am a Rohingya. Byrne meets Jacob Silkstone for a conversation about how something we think is good becomes evil, and what comfort poetry can give.

C lo s i n g p e r fo r m a n c e :

The short story as an everyday genre Ol av H Hauge

Sunday 9 February 15.30–16.30 NOK 150 Norwegian

Mood-setting, brief and bounded – what makes the shortstory genre so suitable for describing the ordinary? Two of Norway’s most widely-read and critically acclaimed shortstory writers, Laila Stien and Frode Grytten, converse with novelist Marit Eikemo, who ventured into this field for the first time in the autumn of 2019. The moderator is librarian and short story writer Eivind Riise Hauge.


Throwing Voices The final session in the LitFestBergen 2020 programme is a genre-busting presentation of music, text, throat singing, photography and speech. Throwing Voices is a unique collaboration which looks at the way language, culture and tradition can resonate across cultural boundaries. Swedish-Sami author Linnea Axelsson and Canadian-Inuit author Taqralik Partridge have created texts about three objects with special significance in their cultures. Scottish folk musician Kate Young has set these to music. With translator Saskia Vogel and musician Pippa Murphy, they are appearing on stage in Norway for the first time. After the performance, the artists will talk with LitFestBergen director Teresa Grøtan about surmounting linguistic and cultural barriers. In cooperation with the Edinburgh International Book Festival, where the production had its premiere in August 2019.



Sunday 9 February 16.30–18.00 NOK 150 English


A lt G å r Br a

MiRee Abrahamsen (b 1973, South Korea) is a Norwegian author and visual artist. Raised in Arendal, she has studied internationally. As a language and arts student, she lived in the Czech Republic, Belarus, Syria, Russia and the Netherlands. Between 2008 and 2016, she was based in China, where she studied at universities in Yunnan, Beijing and Shanghai. As a novelist, she has been nominated for the South Norwegian Literature Prize on three occasions. In 2019, she published Sjamanen i stjerneregn - en reise til Asias sentrum, a book that resists classification as novel, piece of travel writing or collection of essays. Abrahamsen has competed in martial arts events at national and international level since 2012, becoming the first Norwegian athlete to win a gold medal in the tai ji world championships. Alt Går Bra is a group of visual artists resear­ ching the intersections between art and po­litics through exhibitions, discursive events and publications. Founded in 2015, Alt Går Bra is based in Bergen, Paris and London. Its work has been presented at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Palais de Tokyo and Kode, as well as in a range of venues not specifically art-related, including the University of Westminster, Tottenham Hotspur football club, libraries, churches, factories and pubs.

C at hr ine B a gl o

Ber i t B a r eks t en

Cathrine Baglo (b 1969, Norway) is a writer and researcher whose work is heavily concerned with the cultural history of the Sami people and other indigenous groups. After a short stint as a project leader in the Sami parliament, she has worked at the University of Tromsø and Tromsø University Museum since 2003. Her publications include På ville veger? Levende utstillingerav samer i Europa og Amerika (2017). Baglo’s articles have appeared in numerous academic journals, and she is currently editing a book on the ethnologist and adventurer Johan Adrian Jacobsen and his impact on the indigenous people he recruited for his “live exhibitions”. Berit Bareksten (b 1968, Norway) is an editor and sociologist employed as a project manager at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. She gained a MA in sociology from the University of Bergen, and has spent much of her working life combining writing with health promotion. In 2001, she developed a project for the City of Bergen entitled “Art, culture and mental health”, and founded the magazine KraftVERK, which publishes poems and prose texts written by people involved in this project. Several of the texts were included in the Utsikt til solen anthology (2006), which was edited by Bareksten. In later years she has worked with general conveying of literature, notably as an editor for Amalie Skram-selskapet. 


K jer s t i G Berg

Ingr id Ber v en

Kjersti G Berg (b 1975, Norway) is a post-­ doctoral researcher at the Chr Michelsen Institute (CMI) in Bergen. Her areas of research are the Palestine-Israel conflict, Palestinian refugees and international aid. Her PhD from the University of Bergen in 2015 was the first in-depth study of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and the Palestinian refugee camps. Berg is part of the Norwegian Fripro project “SuperCamp: genealogies of humanitarian containment in the Middle East”. At the CMI, she teaches on the Arab-Israeli conflict and Middle Eastern history. She is currently writing a book in Norwegian about Palestine on a stipend from the Norwegian Non-Fiction Writers and Translators Association. Ingrid Berven (b 1951, Norway) is a visual artist educated at the Bergen Academy of Art and Design and the Grieg Academy. She works creatively with new media, and has held several exhibitions as well as participating in interdisciplinary projects both in Norway and internationally. Berven has been active as a scenographer for Transiteatret, and as curator for Galleri By The Way. She is also behind the documentary The Return and has had a solo exhibition at Kunsthall 3,14. Berven has been represented several times at the National Art Exhibition in Oslo, and at Galleri s-e in Bergen. In recent years, she has also executed large projects, such as the video installation Pasjon og Polemikk, which revolves around the art critic’s relation to criticism.


Kari Bir k el a nd

K jer s t i B jør k mo

Kari Birkeland (b 1962 Norway) is a journalist and producer who is known as a news presenter for the TV2 channel. A qualified journalist, she was part of the team at TV2 for 18 years after the channel went on air in 1992. Birkeland is now a producer at Meyer Film as well as a journalism teacher. With Mette Anthun, she wrote the novel Emmas avec which appeared in 2012. Kjersti Bjørkmo (b 1971, Norway) is a north Norwegian poet currently living and working in Oslo. She made her literary debut in 2014 with the poetry collection Jeg har prøvd å bli venn med dyrene. A second collection, Hadde du bodd her hadde du vært hjemme nå, followed in 2019. Reviewers have praised Bjørkmo for the way she handles heavy themes with a lightness of touch. Her latest collection takes its inspiration from the mottos of various Norwegian local authorities. She works for the Fritt Ord Foundation.

K e t il B jør n s ta d

Ingr id Br ek k e

Ketil Bjørnstad (b 1952, Norway) is a pianist, composer and author. He has toured multiple countries, and collaborated with a wide array of musicians, writers and film directors. He began his writing career in 1972 with the poetry collection Alone. Over almost five decades since then, Bjørnstad has published more than 40 books across a rich variety of genres, including poems, novels and bio­graphies. His latest work is a series of novels called Verden som var min, written as memoirs, over the last six decades. His awards include the Riksmål Society Literary Prize and France’s Le prix des lecteurs, as well as a Norwegian Grammy for his album Berget det blå. Ingrid Brekke (b 1969, Norway) is a journalist and author. She has worked for Aftenposten since 2000, and was the newspaper’s Berlin correspondent between 2012 and 2014. Before that, she edited the culture section of Klassekampen. Brekke authored the first Norwegian biography of Angela Merkel in 2016, and received the Willy Brandt Prize (an annual award in recognition of significant contributions to Norwegian-German relations) a year later. She is also part of the duo behind the podcast Tyskerne, about German culture and politics. Her most recent publication is Polen. Aske og diamanter (2019), offering a panoramic overview of recent Polish history. Among her other publications is Da øst ble vest. Livet i Europa etter kommunismens fall (2014).

Ja me s By r ne

P edro C a r mon a-A lva r e z

James Byrne (b 1977, UK) is a poet, editor and translator. He was recognised by The Times as one of British poetry’s rising stars in 2009, and his work has been translated into multiple languages. His editorial work also has a global focus, and he co-edited the first anthology of Burmese poetry ever published for an international audience, Bones Will Crow, in 2015. He followed that in 2019 with another co-editor project, I Am a Rohingya: Poetry from the Camps and Beyond. Embracing the digital poetry revolution years before most other editors, Byrne transformed The Wolf into one of the most influential online poetry journals, promoting innovative and diverse writing from around the world. His latest collection, The Caprices, was written in response to paintings by Goya. Pedro Carmona-Alvarez (b 1972, Chile) is a Norwegian author and musician. He made his literary debut with Helter, and has subsequently published several poetry collections, novels and essays. Carmona-Alvarez has served as editor for Cappelen Damm’s new writing anthology Signaler and (with Gunnar Wærness) Verden finnes ikke på kartet, an anthology of international contemporary poetry in translation. His work has been translated into Danish, German and English, and he has won a number of prizes – most recently the listeners’ novel prize from the P2 radio channel for 2012. He plays in several bands, such as  Moonpedro and the Goldfish. His most recent publication is Refrenger (2019), an essay collection exploring literature, music and his personal history as a fugitive from the Pinochet regime in Chile.


Pat r ick Ch a moise au

L a r s S a a by e Chr is t en sen

Patrick Chamoiseau (b 1953, Martinique) is a French-language author who has been a leading figure in the créolité (Creoleness) literary movement. After studying in Paris, he returned home to Martinique, where his writing has frequently been inspired by Creole culture. His 1989 publication, Eloge de la créolité, was the catalyst for the créolité movement, a celebration of the diversity and strength of French Caribbean culture. In 1992, Chamoiseau’s novel Texaco received the Prix Goncourt, France’s most prestigious literary award. It was also selected as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and described in The Mail & Guardian as “the work of a genius”. Nearly three decades on, his reputation as one of the most innovative and powerful contemporary French-language writers is assured. Lars Saabye Christensen (b 1953, Norway) is one of Norway’s leading contemporary writers. His recent trilogy Byens spor (Echoes of the City) was hailed on its appearance in English translation as “a jewel of modern Norwegian literature”. His novels have been published in 36 countries. Saabye Christensen has published more than 50 books. Among the best-known are Beatles (winner of the Cappelen Prize) and Halvbroren (The Half Brother, winner of the Nordic Council Literature Prize and shortlisted for the International Impac Dublin Literary Award). He is a member of the Norwegian Academy for Language and Literature, and has been made a commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of St Olav for his services to Norwegian literature.


S u s a nne Chr is t en sen

B jør n D a hl

Susanne Christensen (b 1969, Denmark) is a Dano-Norwegian literary critic and essayist who lives in Berlin. She has contributed literary criticism for many years to Morgenbladet and Klassekampen as well as serving as co-editor of Vagant. Her essay collection Den ulne avantgarde. Kritiske tekster fra 00-tallet was published in 2011, when she was also voted literary critic of the year by the Norwegian Critics’ Association. Christensen published En punkbønn in 2015. This second set of essays was nominated for the Norwegian Critics’ Prize in the same year. Her latest book, Leonoras reise (2019), is about British-Mexican artist Leonora Carrington. Bjørn Dahl (b 1958, Norway) is a farmer and self-employed worker. He was in an orphanage during the early 1970s, and also lived on the streets for a time. Since 1980, he has been a self-employed worker and farmer, and has employed people from the margins of society in his work. Dahl is currently a student of social anthropology at the University of Bergen.

A n t on y D a p ir a n

Di a n a Darke

M a r ie D a r r ie u s sec q

Nhu Diep

Antony Dapiran (b 1975, Australia) is a Hong Kong-based lawyer, photographer and author whose book City of Protest: A Recent History of Dissent in Hong Kong has been lauded as one of the most influential texts on contemporary protests in the city state. He has split his time between Hong Kong and Beijing for more than 20 years, and is a fluent speaker of Mandarin Chinese. One of China’s leading corporate finance lawyers, Dapiran has been responsible for advising some of the largest companies in the country. City of Protest was published in 2017 and will be followed in early 2020 by a sequel entitled City on Fire. He has covered the 2019 protests in Hong Kong for media outlets such as the Guardian, the Atlantic, and the New Statesman.

Marie Darrieussecq (b 1969, France) is an award-winning French novelist with an international readership. Her first novel, Pig Tales. A Novel of Lust and Transformation, was accepted by its editor in under 24 hours, and enabled its author to leave her teaching position at the University of Lille to concentrate on a full-time career as a writer. It was chosen as a finalist for France’s most prestigious literary award, the Prix Goncourt, and translated into 24 languages. Two of Darrieussecq’s subsequent novels have also received Prix Goncourt nominations, and Il faut beaucoup des hommes won the Prix Médicis in 2013. Her most recent publication is Our Life in the Forest, which appeared in English translation in 2019.

Diana Darke (b 1956, UK) is an author and broadcaster best known as an expert on Middle Eastern culture. After studying German and philosophy/Arabic at the University of Oxford, she worked as an Arabic consultant for the British government. Her book My House in Damascus: An Inside View of the Syrian Crisis was first published in 2014, with updated and expanded editions appearing in both 2015 and 2016. In 2018, Darke published The Merchant of Syria: A History of Survival. More recently, her writing has appeared in various international newspapers, including the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, and the Sunday Times.

Nhu Diep (b 1978, Vietnam) is a Vietnamese-Norwegian illustrator and graphic designer. Her first major publication was the children’s book series Lille Ting in 2010. With its abstract designs and poetic accompanying texts, her work takes small children’s literature in directions previously left unexplored by the vast majority of writers. She is based in Bergen, and was involved in producing the graphic designs for the city’s House of Literature when it first opened in 2013.


T ish a ni D o shi

Marit Eik emo

Tishani Doshi (b 1975, India) is a poet, novelist and dancer of Welsh-Gujarati descent. She is the author of three poetry collections and three novels. Her first novel, The Pleasure Seekers (2010), was longlisted for the Orange Prize and the International Impac Dublin Literary Award. The latest, Small Days and Nights (2019), was an Irish Times Book of the Year. Her most recent poetry collection, Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods, was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award. In 2012, she was India’s representative at the Poetry Parnassus in London. Doshi performed internationally as the lead dancer in the Chandralekha Troupe, and her diverse career has also included stints as a cricket columnist and a synchronised swimmer. She is currently based in Tamil Nadu, India. Marit Eikemo (b 1971, Norway) is an influential essayist, novelist and editor. A native of Odda, she made her debut with Her, no: Møte med unge menneske in 1999. A debut novel, Mellom oss sagt, followed in 2006. In 2011, her third novel, Samtale ventar, won the Nynorsk Literature Prize. She has also published a collection of essays entitled Samtids­ruinar. With Hilde Sandvik, Eikemo was co-editor of the cultural and political magazine Syn og Segn, and has been the festival director for the Literature Symposium in Odda. Her latest book is the short story collection Hardanger (2019).


A nn a F isk e

Harald Gaski

Anna Fiske (b 1964, Sweden) is an author, illustrator and cartoonist who has published more than 60 books across a wide range of genres. These works have been published in a number of countries and are conspicuous for their playful irreverence and unique style. As an illustrator, she has also collaborated with a number of other authors. Notably, Joel og lo (written by Geir Gulliksen) was nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize in 2016. In 2007, Fiske’s children’s book Hallo Jorda was nominated for the Norwegian Critics’ Prize, and she received the Book Art Prize in 2014. Elven — her first illustrated novel for young readers — won the prestigious Brage Prize in 2011. Her most recent publication, in 2019, is Hvordan lager man en baby?. Harald Gaski (b 1955, Norway) is a professor of Sami culture and literature at the Sámi University of applied sciences in Kautokeino. In 2006, he was the joint recipient of Gollegiella, a biennial prize open to Sami speakers in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.  Gaski’s publications include several books on Sami cultural and literary history for a wide range of audiences. His academic work includes research on Sami epic poetry and culture in northern Norway. Especially notable are his interpretations and translations of the Nordic Council Literature Prize recipient Nils Aslak Valkeapää. He also writes fiction and has published a children’s book, Čiežain čáziin, with Lars Nordström. This has later been translated into both Norwegian and Finnish.

Gl or i a Ger v i t z

F rode Gry t t en

Gloria Gervitz (b 1943, Mexico) is a poet descended from Ukrainian Jews and currently based in the USA. She received the Pablo Neruda Prize for Ibero-American Poetry in 2019. Her work consists principally of a single long poem, Migraciones (Migrations), pu­b lished across seven books. The first section of the poem, Shajarit, appeared in 1979 and the seventh was published in 2003. A revised and longer version of the poem appeared in 2016, now without any division into sections. As a whole, Migraciones is regarded as one of the more significant long poems to appear in any language in the past half-century. The most recent version of the poem was published in 2019, and the text is still changing. It has been translated into various languages, including English, German, Swedish, Arabic and Norwegian. Frode Grytten (b 1960, Norway) is an author based in Bergen. He grew up in Odda, and the Hardanger area of Norway often forms an integral part of his fiction. He made his debut in 1983 with a poetry collection, Start, and has published prolifically ever since across a wide range of genres – novels, short story collec­ tions, non-fiction, travel writing and children’s literature. Grytten’s novel Bikubesong received the Brage Prize in 1999 and was nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize. The short story collection Rom ved havet, rom i byen received both the Nynorsk Literature Prize (in 2007) and the Melsom Prize (in 2008). His latest release is Landet bortanfor landet. Område 51 (2019). Grytten’s work has been translated into numerous languages, including English, German and Chinese.

Alf va n der H a gen

F r edr ik H a gen

Alf van der Hagen (b 1962, Sweden) is a Norwegian author who has written several books based on interviews with their subject. He won the Norwegian Critics Prize for the best non-fiction book with  Dag Solstad. Uskrevne memoarer (2013), and was nominated for the Brage Prize with Kjell Askildsen. Et liv (2014). Van der Hagen has been co-editor of the Vagant magazine, an editor for the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation’s Kritikertorget programme and the Norwegian Book Clubs, and editor-in-chief and CEO of Morgenbladet. His most recent book is Suzanne Brøgger. Samtalememoarer (2019). Fredrik Hagen (b 1991, Norway) is a poet and PhD candidate at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. He has edited the poetry fanzine Forsvinningspunkt and leads the Poetry Salon at the Bergen House of Literature. Hagen has published three collections of poetry in rapid succession – Jeg kom plutselig til å slutte å tenke på deg (2017), Alt er barndom (2018) and Han ligner en måte å sove på (2019). Hailing from Odda, he currently lives in Bergen.


Ei v ind R iise H auge

Niil l a s Hol mberg

Eivind Riise Hauge (b 1980, Norway) made his literary debut in 2010 with the short story collection Victor Tukmakovs siste vinter, and has since established himself as a versatile author with publications in a number of genres – novels, short stories and non-fiction. His work includes Sjakk. Spillenes konge, for example, and he has also worked as a chess instructor and played team chess in Norway’s premier division. Hauge published his first play, ROP!, in 2018. This depicts a single working day at a local government unit where social workers and the mentally ill, drug-­addicted residents share the hours. He recently published his second play, Beverriket (2020). Niillas Holmberg (b 1990, Finland) is a Sami musician, writer and actor. Throughout his career, he has been a vocal champion of the Sami and indigenous rights. He is the author of six books of poetry, which have been translated into more than 10 languages. In 2015, he was the Sami nominee for the Nordic Council Literature Prize with the poetry collection amas amas amasmuvvat (later translated into Norwegian by Rawdna Carita Eira under the title Så den fremmede ikke blir mer fremmed). As a musician, Holmberg is a vocalist, gui­tarist, composer and lyricist. Across all genre boundaries, his artistic work demonstrates a deep commitment to the environment and indigenous culture, and is characterised by a willingness to speak out against oppression.


K r is t ine Ho v d a

K r is t i a n H æ g ger ne s

Kristine Hovda (b 1984, Norway) is a musician, journalist and author who has written for numerous newspapers, including Klassekampen, A-magasinet, D2 and VG Helg. She has also created a number of radio documentaries for Norway’s P2 channel. Hovda made her literary debut in 2019 with Jeg lever ikke lenger selv, about her experiences as a teenager in a free-church youth environment. In the same year, she also issued Find me in the morning as her first single. Kristian Hæggernes (b 1972, Norway) is an author based in Bergen. He made his debut in 2004 with the Tyngde av fallende skygge poetry collection. Since then, he has published critically acclaimed books in a variety of genres – short prose, novels and several poetry collections. His latest book is the novel Gaute & Veronika (2018).

D oung A n wa r Ja h a ngeer

Kari Jeger s t ed t

Doung Anwar Jahangeer (b 1970, Mauri­tius) is an artist and architect based in Durban, South Africa. After studying architecture at the University of Natal, he worked on the restoration of listed buildings in London before turning his attention to conceptual art. His work has expanded to include multiple disciplines – video, sculpture, performance, painting and installation. Jahangeer’s artistic creations are often linked by their focus on marginalised groups in society. In 2009, his design of a mobile shop for street vendors received the South African Design Indaba. He played a significant role in the “Streetlights” project in 2004, aimed at encouraging street children to create art in the public spaces of Johannesburg. He is the co-founder of Dala, an arts consulting group for “creative and artistic experimentations”. Kari Jegerstedt (b 1963, Norway) is an associate professor in the centre for women’s and gender research at the University of Bergen and has a PhD in comparative literature with a thesis on Angela Carter. Her interests include global and post-colonial literature, feminist theory, psychoanalysis and post-humanism. Jegerstedt has devoted particular attention in her recent research to contemporary African literature in English by all genders. Jegerstedt leads the LitFestBergen reading circle.

A nder s Joh a nsen

Jens M Joh a ns s on

Anders Johansen (b 1952, Norway) is a professor in the department of information science and media studies at the University of Bergen. As a scientist and writer, he has published essays, non-fiction books and polemics. He tackles the subject of political communication in such works as Talerens troverdighet (2002) and Virksomme ord (2005) with Jens Kjeldsen, as well as in the online archive named www.virksommeord.no. Johansen published Komme til orde. Politisk kommunikasjon 18141913 in 2019, which was very well received. Jens M Johansson (b 1971, Sweden) is a Norwegian journalist and author. He is the author of five novels, most recently Lav­ terskeltilbud (2019), and has won several prizes for his journalism. He has also published a short story collection, Bisettelsen har funnet sted (2002), and a collection of short bio-­ graphical profiles, Døde fedre. Writers profiled in the latter include Haruki Murakami and Jon Fosse. In 2004, Johansson became the final winner of the Tiden Prize, and received the Great Journalist Award the following year. Penny Johnson (b 1947, Japan) is an American now based in Ramallah, author, researcher and founding member of the Institute of Women’s Studies at Birzeit University in Palestine. With her husband, Raja Shehadeh (who is also attending this year’s Bergen International Literary Festival), she edited Seeking Palestine: New Palestinian Writing on Exile and Home, which received the General Prize in the 2013 Palestine Book Awards. A


P enn y Johns on

Ni ta sh a K aul

further collection of essays, Shifting Sands: The Unravelling of the Old Order in the Middle East, followed in 2015. Johnson’s most recent publication, Companions in Conflict: Animals in Occupied Palestine, explores the Israeli-­ Palestinian conflict through a surprising lens – the animals trying to survive in the occupied territories. Nitasha Kaul (b 1976, India) is an academic, author, artist and economist. Over the past two decades, she has published and spoken on themes relating to identity, democracy, political economy, feminist and postcolonial critiques, Kashmir and Bhutan. Currently a senior lecturer in politics and international relations at the University of Westminster, Kaul is the author of  Imagining Economics Otherwise: encounters with identity/ difference (2007). In October 2019, she provided expert testimony to a hearing by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US Congress in Washington DC on the human rights position in Kashmir. Her novel Residue (2014), about Kashmiris and the politics of identity across nation-state borders, was shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize. This is the first novel in English by a Kashmiri woman.  Khaled Khalifa (b 1964, Syria) is a novelist, screenwriter and poet born in Aleppo. The second of his five novels was suppressed by the Union of Arab Writers for four years after its publication, and his third was officially banned by the Syrian government. Neverthe-


K h a l ed K h a l ifa

N a zneen K h a n-Ø s t r em

less, he is one of the few writers of his generation to have remained in Syria throughout the current conflict. “Everyone has left,” he recently told a literary festival in Italy, “but a few stubborn souls like me remain. We cling to each other.” Khalifa’s novels In Praise of Hatred and No Knives in the Kitchens of this City both made the shortlist for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, and the latter also received the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature. His most recent book, Death is Hard Work, appeared in English translation in 2019, and was recently nominated for the National Book Award. Nazneen Khan-Østrem (b 1968, Kenya) is an author and journalist based in Oslo. She was born in Nairobi, but grew up in Britain and Norway. After receiving an MSc in international politics from the London School of Economics, she worked as a cultural and music critic for a variety of publications and fronted the music programme M on the Norwegian national TV channel NRK2. In 2005, she published Min hellige krig, examining the many faces of Islam and documenting a “personal pilgrimage” in the wake of the 11 September attacks. In 2019, her non-fiction work London was described by Dagbladet as “the ultimate book on Britain’s capital city”. A member of the Arts Council Norway, Khan-Østrem has been a regular contributor to both Aftenposten and Klassekampen.

Jen s K ihl

E s t her K in sk y

Jens Kihl (b 1986, Norway) is a commentator, author and adherent of Norway’s Nynorsk (New Norwegian) language movement. He has been leader of the Nynorsk youth association and deputy leader of the Norwegian Language Society, and won the Ministry of Culture’s Nynorsk prize for journalists in 2017. Kihl worked earlier as a journalist for Klassekampen, and is now a political commentator at Bergens Tidende. Published in 2019, his book Dette er også Noreg. Kommunal feelgood takes a humorous look at the consequences of Norway’s latest local government reform. Esther Kinsky (b 1956, Germany) is an author and translator regarded as one of Germany’s foremost contemporary writers. She grew up beside the Rhine, and lived in London for more than a decade before returning to Germany. In 2017-18, she held a visiting professorship at the Free University of Berlin. Her most recent novel, Hain: Geländeroman, won the Belles Lettres category of the 2018 Leipzig Book Fair, and her novel Am Fluss (translated into English as River) received the 2015 Kranichsteiner Literature Prize and made the longlist for the German Book Prize. She is also a prolific translator from English, Polish and Russian into German. Her translations include work by Olga Tokarczuk, the recipient of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature.

A m a l ie Holt K l ei v e

Ja n H L a ndro

Ly nd a Bl a ck mon L o w ery

Ingunn L unde

Amalie Holt Kleive (b 1994, Norway) is a jazz vocalist and producer. After playing classical piano for 10 years, she started a BA programme in jazz vocals at the Grieg Academy in Bergen. She is now working mainly on a solo project under her own name, but also participates in several other musical projects. Holt Kleive writes lyrics in Norwegian, and was given a scholarship for graduate artists by the Arts Council Norway. She is currently working on her debut album, to be released on Eget Selskap/Blanca Records in 2020.

Lynda Blackmon Lowery (b 1950, USA) was the youngest participant in the Selma to Montgomery march in 1965, fighting alongside Martin Luther King, Jr to secure the right to vote for African-Americans. She documented her experiences in Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom, in collaboration with journalists Elspeth Leacock and Susan Buckley. This was chosen as one of the Kirkus Best Books of 2015, and as a Booklist Editors’ Choice. Lowery still lives in Selma, where she works full-time as a case manager at a mental health centre.

Jan H Landro (b 1948, Norway) is an author, journalist and regular contributor to Dag og Tid. A former culture editor of Bergens Tidende, he has published a number of books. These include Jeg er ikke ironisk: samtaler med Dag Solstad (2001) and Bernt Tunold: vestlandsmålar i grønt og grått (2016). He is also a wellknown conductor of public literary interviews and lectures. His latest work is Frå Nora til Karl Ove - og 84 andre personar i norsk litteratur (2017).

Ingunn Lunde (b 1969, Norway), is professor of Russian at the University of Bergen. In 2000, she was a visiting scholar at the Ukrainian research institute of Harvard University, and served in 2014-15 as a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin. Lunde is editor and co-editor of 11 books, including Digital Russia: The Language, Culture and Politics of New Media Communication. She is the founder and general editor of Slavica Bergensia (1999), and a board member of several foundations, including the Scandinavian Association of Slavists. Her latest publication is Fragmenter av fortid: Historiens rolle i russisk samtidslitteratur (2019).



Cecil ie L ø v eid

M a zen M a a rouf

Cecilie Løveid (b 1951, Norway) is an award-­ winning author and one of Norway’s most frequently performed playwrights. She lived in Copenhagen from 1999 to 2011, but is now resident in Bergen. Løveid is widely recognised for the richness of her writing, which encompasses several genres. She made her literary debut with the novel Most in 1972, and has since written fiction, poetry and drama. Løveid is regarded as one of the great lyric poets in Norwegian literature. Her poetry collection Vandreutstillinger (2017), about art and the life or work of artists won Løveid both the Norwegian Critics’ Prize and the Brage Prize. She has won the Ibsen prize three times as well as a number of other literary awards. An edition of her collected works from 19682000 appeared in 2019. Mazen Maarouf (b 1978, Lebanon) is a Palestinian-Icelandic writer whose short story collection Jokes for the Gunmen was longlisted for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize. He was born in Beirut to a Palestinian refugee family and worked as a teacher of chemistry and physics before relocating to Iceland, where he is now the foremost translator of Icelandic literature into Arabic. His own writing includes three collections of poetry, beginning with Our Grief Resembles Bread in 2000. He has contributed articles to several Arabic magazines and newspapers and published his debut short story collection in 2015. His work has been translated into a dozen languages. Maarouf divides his time between Reykjavik and Beirut.

A nne t t e M at t s s on

D a niel Medin

Annette Mattsson (b 1959, Norway) is a Bergen-based writer, specialising primarily in short fiction. Since making her debut with the short story collection Fotografiet in 1997, she has published two novels and four additional short story collections, as well as a novel for younger readers. Mattsson’s awards include Tannums kvinnestipend and Bjørnsonstipendet, and her most recent novel is Å dele en flamme, published by Gyldendal in 2011. Daniel Medin (b 1975, USA) lives in France, where he is an associate professor of comparative literature and English at the American University of Paris. He is also associate director of the Centre for Writers and Translators and an editor of its Cahiers series. Medin is also co-editor of the Music & Literature magazine in Houston, commissions translations for The White Review (London), and curates a series about Berlin and international writing at the Berlin House of Literature. A past judge for leading translation prizes in the UK (Man Booker International Prize) and the USA (Best Translated Book Award), he is now on the jury of their German equivalent (HKW Internationaler Literaturpreis).

K a ja S ch jerv en Mol l er in

P ip pa Mur p h y

Kaja Schjerven Mollerin (b 1980, Norway) is a critic at Klassekampen, a former editor of Vinduet and a member of the editorial team at Agora. She received a PhD in general comparative literature from the University of Oslo with a thesis on Susan Sontag. Her published works include Sammen, hver dag. Om fellesskap i litteraturen (2012), Handke-debatten (2015) with Henning Hagerup and, most recently Historien om Mor Godhjerta (2019) about Jan Erik Vold’s iconic poetry collection Mor Godhjertas glade versjon. Ja. In 2012, Schjerven Mollerin was named Norwegian Critic of the Year and won the Anders Jahre prize for culture.   Pippa Murphy (b 1972, UK) is an award-winning composer and sound designer known for combining orchestras, singers and instrumentalists with ambient soundscapes. She is known for her stylistic breadth, depth and originality, as well as a unique cross-disciplinary understanding of storytelling and creative collaboration. Murphy is part of the Throwing Voices project, a collaboration between writers and musicians which explores the place of indigenous languages and dialects in the 21st century.


N ja b ul o Ndebel e

Ja s on Y Ng

Er l end O Nød t v ed t

Mich a el Opa r a

Njabulo Ndebele (b 1948, South Africa) is an author and academic. He is currently chair of the Nelson Mandela Foundation and chancellor of the University of Johannesburg. His debut collection of short fiction, Fools and Other Stories, was published in 1983, and received the Noma Award for the best book published in Africa that year. Ndebele is also an acclaimed essayist. His writing has been described by the Guardian as distinctive for its “innovative, hybrid form” and his novel The Cry of Winnie Mandela is regarded by many as one of the most important books of the post-apartheid era. Ndebele was president of the Congress of South African Writers for many years, while his career in higher education includes periods as vice-chancellor of the University of the North and the University of Cape Town.

Erlend O Nødtvedt (b 1984, Norway) is a critically acclaimed poet, known for his playful take on literary tradition. He made his literary debut with the poetry collection Harudes in 2008 and has since published the Bergens beskrivelse (2011) Trollsuiten (2014) and Slekter (2019) collections. Among the several prizes he has won are the Young Poet Award in 2008, the Bergen Prize in 2011, the Bjørnson scholarship in 2012 and Premio Ostana in 2017. Nødtvedt published his first novel, Vestlandet, in 2017. This was very well received, and has been described as a “superb ode to western Norway”. He was acclaimed one of Norway’s 10 best authors under the age of 35 by Morgenbladet and the Norwegian Festival of Literature in 2015, and received the Olav H Hauge scholarship in 2018.

Jason Y Ng (b 1972, Hong Kong) is an auth­ or, journalist and pro-democracy activist who served as the inaugural president of PEN Hong Kong. He moved between Italy, the USA and Canada before settling back in Hong Kong, where he became the bestselling author of Hong Kong State of Mind, No City for Slow Men and Umbrellas in Bloom. Together, these books form Ng’s Hong Kong trilogy, mapping the city’s postcolonial history. The first two titles in the Hong Kong trilogy both received the Harvard Book Award. In 2019, he was elected co-convenor of the Progressive Lawyers Group, dedicated to promoting human rights in Hong Kong. His book Unfree Speech: The Threat to Global Democracy and Why We Must Act Now, co-authored with Joshua Wong, is due out in 2020.

Michael Opara (b Nigeria), also known as Doriansgrave, is a spoken-word performer and musician based in Bergen. After initially studying chemistry, he switched his attention to art and has been a key member of the Bergen spoken-word scene for more than half a decade. He is the founder of Slam Poetry Bergen, and continues to host regular events promoting both local and international slam poets and spoken-word artists. Opara is also a critically-acclaimed underground hip hop musician, performing as Doriansgrave. He describes himself as an artist who “minimalises the instruments and turns up the volume of the text”. In contrast to commercial hip hop, his aim is to create music which is multi-dimensional, fragmented and experimental.


K r is t in S k a r e Orger e t

B jør n Ou sl a nd

Kristin Skare Orgeret (b 1968, Norway) is professor of journalism and media studies at Oslo Metropolitan University. She conducts research on journalism in conflict and transition, journalists’ safety, digital activism, and gender and media. She has lived, worked and done research and evaluations in a number of African countries as well as in Bangladesh and Nepal. Orgeret has been editor and coeditor of various publications, including Journalism in Conflict and Post Conflict Conditions. Worldwide Perspectives. She is frequently used as a commentator on journalism issues and foreign news in Norwegian media and was awarded the Norwegian Media Researchers’ Award for Research Dissemination in 2016. Her latest publication is Journalism, gender and power structures, strategic leadership at the work place (2019). Bjørn Ousland (b 1959, Norway) is a Brage Prize-winning illustrator and children’s writer. He is best known for a series of graphic novels inspired by Norwegian fairy tales, and for his children’s books on Polar explorers. His brother is the Polar explorer Børge Ousland, the first person to complete a solo crossing of the Antarctic. Ousland graduated from the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in New Jersey, and made his breakthrough as a writer with Solruns saga, a trilogy of graphic novels set at the time of the Black Death. He was awarded the Brage Prize in 2007 for Fortellingen om et mulig drap, a non-fiction children’s book about Norwegian king Håkon Sverreson.

Ta q r a l ik Pa r t r id ge

F rode Hel mich P eder sen

Taqralik Partridge (b Canada) is a writer and spoken-word performer of Inuit and Scottish-Canadian heritage, currently based at Kautokeino in northern Norway. Originally from Nunavik in northern Quebec, her style blends contemporary influences with Inuit storytelling tradition. Her work has been described as a dynamic mixture of “real-life stories with rhyme, lullaby and Inuit throat-singing”. She has toured with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and produced work for CBC radio. In 2010, her short story “Igloolik” won the Quebec Writing Competition. Partridge is a participant in the Throwing Voices project, a collaboration between writers and musicians which explores the place of indigenous languages and dialects in the 21st century. Frode Helmich Pedersen (b 1976, Norway) is associate professor of Nordic literature at the University of Bergen, and has served for many years as a literary critic for Bergens Tidende and Morgenbladet. Pedersen has been on the editorial staff of the Prosopopeia, Vagant and Vinduet journals, and has taught for many years at the Academy of Creative Writing in Hordaland. Pedersen is also a permanent member of the Critical Quartet, the Bergen House of Literature’s forum for literary criticism. His latest book is Bjørnstjerne Bjørnsons samtidsdrama (2017).


Kol ek a P u t um a

V ibek e K no op R a chl ine

Koleka Putuma (b 1993, South Africa) is a performance poet, playwright and theatre director based in Cape Town. In 2017, her debut poetry collection, Collective Amnesia, achieved bestseller status and went on to receive the Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry. It is currently in its ninth print run. Putuma has been a South African National Poetry Slam champion, and was also recognised with a place in the Forbes “Africa 30 Under 30” list. She has been described as “the groundbreaking new voice of South African poetry” by OkayAfrica, which singled out her “uncompromising fearlessness” for praise. A translation of her debut poetry collection into Danish is forthcoming, following previous translations into Spanish and German.   Vibeke Knoop Rachline (b 1954, Norway) is a Norwegian journalist who has been based in Paris for more than four decades. She was Dagbladet’s correspondent in the French capital for nearly 25 years. Her six non-fiction books include Les Norvégiens, originally written in French. Her work has frequently explored issues faced by the Jewish community in France. In 1987, Knoop Rachline was among the journalists covering the trial of Gestapo member Klaus Barbie, nicknamed “the Butcher of Lyon”. In autumn 2019, she published Terror i Europas hjerte, an account of the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris.


M a ry Ruef l e

T or a de Zwart Rørholt

Mary Ruefle (b 1952, USA) is a poet and essayist, whose career in writing spans close to four decades. Among her many books are Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures (2012), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism. In 2010, her Selected Poems received the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. Her most recent collection is Dunce (2019). She has worked across multiple genres, and her publications include a comic book, Go Home and Go to Bed! (2007). Ruefle is also an erasure artist, and her treatments of 19th-century texts have been exhibited in numerous museums and galleries. She has received an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim fellowship, and a Whiting Award, among several other prestigious honours. She lives in Bennington, Vermont. Tora de Zwart Rørholt (b 1981, Norway) is a producer at Carte Blanche, the Norwegian National Company of Contemporary Dance, and has contributed to several large performances since 2012. Rørholt has also worked as a culture journalist and theatre reviewer for Bergens Tidende. She is the former deputy leader of the Bergen Dance Centre, and has also worked as a producer for freelance dancers.

B jør n H S a m se t

Sigr i S a ndberg

Bjørn H Samset (b 1977, Norway) is a physicist and climate scientist. He received his PhD from the University of Oslo, and now works at the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research (Cicero) in Oslo. In 2013, Samset published the popular science book De hemmelige partiklene: hvordan verden er skrudd sammen. He has since played a leading role in sharing climate research with the general public as a blogger, lecturer and media personality. With Selba Ekiz, he has run the popular science podcast Vitendate since 2015. In 2018 he published the popular science book Lys, and the same year he received the Research Council of Norway’s Award for Excellence in Communication of Science. Sigri Sandberg (b 1975, Norway) is an author and journalist, working for leading Norwegian newspapers over more than 20 years. She has lived for many years in Svalbard, and written a number of books on nature, outdoor life, the climate and Arctic regions. These include Treboka (2017) and Klimaboka (2011). In Mørke: Stjerner, redsel og fem netter på Finse (2019), Sandberg explores what the ubiquity of artificial light is doing to humans, animals and all life.

K jer s t i S a nd v ik

Q in S a nshu

Kjersti Sandvik (b 1964, Norway) is a journalist and author with more than 20 years of experience from the fisheries press. Her book on fish farming, Under overflaten – en skitten historie om norsk oppdrettsnæring (2016), attracted positive reviews. Sandvik has previously published Ønskebarn – en bok om ufrivillig barnløshet (Gyldendal 2008). With an interest in nature writing, she is the regional contact in Bergen for the Norwegian Non-Fiction Writers and Translators Association (NFFO). Qin Sanshu (b 1991, China) is a poet, translator and editor, currently based in Paris as a PhD candidate in French literature. Already awarded several prizes for his writing, Sanshu made his debut as a poet with A Quarter of Wave in 2019. He has edited the Enclave serial magazine since 2014 and has translated a number of English and French poets into Mandarin, such as Yves Bonnefoy and Le Corbusier. Sanshu is also the co-founder of Libraire de Douve, an independent pu­blisher committed to promoting Chinese poetry among younger generations. 


R a ja Sheh a deh

Ja c ob Sil ks t one

Raja Shehadeh (b 1951, Palestine) is a writer, lawyer and political activist, recognised by The Observer as “Palestine’s greatest prose writer”. In 1979, he played an instrumental role in founding the Al-Haq non-governmental organisation. Shehadeh’s books have received widespread international recognition. Palestinian Walks (2007) received the Orwell Prize for political writing. With his wife, Penny Johnson (who is also attending this year’s Bergen International Literary Festival), he edited Seeking Palestine: New Palestinian Writing on Exile and Home, which received the General Prize in the 2013 Palestine Book Awards.  In 2019, he published Going Home, simultaneously a memoir and an elegy for Ramallah. Jacob Silkstone (b 1989, UK) is a Bergen-­ based writer and editor, originally from the UK. He has worked as a managing editor for two international literary journals, The Missing Slate (Pakistan) and Asymptote (Taiwan). At the former, he was the organiser of the 2014 Poetry World Cup, which received front-page media coverage in Singapore, Pakistan and Cyprus. Silkstone’s own writing has appeared in various online journals and print anthologies, and he organised writing workshops in Sarajevo, Dubai and Islamabad. Before moving to Bergen, he taught at an international school in Dhaka, Bangladesh.


Sanaah S ulta n

Ø y s t ein Sk jæl a a en

Sanaah Sultan (b 1994, UK) is a spoken-word poet and medical student. With a BSc and a bachelor of medicine degree, Sultan plans to specialise in emergency medicine. She co-founded the UK Kashmir Solidarity Movement and works closely with the Association of Disappeared Persons. Øystein Skjælaaen (b 1977, Norway) is an author, researcher and musician. He has studied substance abuse for many years at the Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research (Sirus) and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. Skjælaaen made his non-fiction debut in 2019 with Meningen med rus, which covers both research findings and his own experiences. He also plays bass in the folk-rock band Real Ones, which was formed in 1994 and has won two Norwegian Grammy awards.

Sigb jør n Sk å den

R is t en S ok k i

Sigbjørn Skåden (b 1976, Norway) is a Sami author and activist. His literary debut was in 2004 with an epic poem entitled Skuovvadeddjiid gonagas (later translated into Norwegian as Skomakernes konge). This was nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize. In 2010, he revealed himself to be the author of the anonymous blog-novel Ihpil, which originally purported to be the work of a Sami girl in the LGBT community. It was initially published as a blog, and then as a novel after the supposed death of the blogger. Skåden’s work continues to be highly innovative. In 2019, he published the novel Fugl, centring on a human colony in outer space. His awards include the Havmann Prize in 2014. He is currently based in Tromsø, where he continues to work actively as an advocate for Sami culture. Risten Sokki (b 1954, Norway) is a Sami poet and teacher whose bilingual debut collection was the Sami candidate for the Nordic Council Literary Prize. Sokki was born in Kautokeino, where she currently works as a secondary school teacher. Her academic publications include three Norwegian textbooks for Sami-speaking students. In 1998, she made her literary debut with the poetry collection Bonán bonán soga suonaid/Jeg tvinner tvinner slektas sener. Her other works include a children’s book, Mitt rare liv, and a collection of short stories, Geadgeloddi, which came out in 2019. Sokki’s great-grandfather, Aslak Jacobsen Hætta, was among the leaders of the Kautokeino uprising in 1852, and her family ties to this event are explored in her writing.

K jer s t i L øk en S tav rum

T horva l d S t een

Jonn y S t einberg

Maria S t epa no va

L a il a S t ien

E sp en S t uel a nd

Kjersti Løken Stavrum (b 1969, Norway) is a journalist and editor who served as secretary general of the Norwegian Press Association from 2013 to 2016. Stavrum is CEO of the Tinius Trust and Blommenholm Industrier, which is the largest shareholder in Schibsted ASA. She also sits on the boards of the Ethical Journalism Network and Norwegian PEN. She has worked as a journalist for Aftenposten, where she contributed to the development of its weekly A-magasinet magazine and edited it from 2005 to 2012. Stavrum has also been editor-in-chief for the weekly women’s magazine Kvinner og Klær (KK), and was named 2003 Female Media Leader of the Year in recog­nition of her success in making KK Norway’s most popular women’s magazine.

Jonny Steinberg (b 1970, South Africa) is a writer and scholar whose work has been influential in charting South Africa’s transition to democracy. He received the inaugural Windham-Campbell Literature Prize in 2013 and has twice won the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award, South Africa’s premier prize for non-fiction. Steinberg has worked as a journalist and a scriptwriter, in addition to serving as a consultant to the South African government on criminal policy. He is currently a professor of African Studies at the University of Oxford. In 2019, he published One Day in Bethlehem, which explores the true story of an innocent man convicted of murder. When he is released from prison 19 years later, he does not recog­ nise society – apartheid has been abolished.

Laila Stien (b 1946, Norway) is a novelist, poet and translator from northern Norway. Her work is distinctive for its engagement with Sami culture, and she has both translated from Sami to Norwegian and edited anthologies of modern Sami literature. In 2015 she was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Tromsø for her work in this area. Stien’s publications include 10 short story collections, a novel (Vekselsang), and three poetry collections, and she has enjoyed notable success as a children’s author. In 1993, she received the Norwegian Critics Prize for Best Children’s Book for Å plukke en smørblomst. Among her numerous other awards are the Aschehoug Prize in 2000 and the Havmann Prize in 1999.

Thorvald Steen (b 1954, Norway) has published over 40 books in different genres, which have been translated into 26 languages and published in nearly 50 countries. He was chair of the Norwegian Authors’ Union between 1991 and 1997, of which he is now an honorary member. Steen’s historical novel Don Carlos, first published in 1993, heralded a major international breakthrough. It was described as one of the five best novels translated into French in 1996, and the Argentinian newspaper Clarin acclaimed Steen as its Best New Writer. His other awards include the Dobloug Prize, the Thomsen Prize, and the Comenius Medal from the University of Bratislava. His most recent publication is Det hvite badehuset (2019), which was nominated for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

Maria Stepanova (b 1972, Russia) is a poet, essayist and journalist. She has been particularly notable as a powerful voice for press freedom in times of censorship. She is the author of 10 poetry collections and two books of essays, and the recipient of the Andrei Bely Prize, Russia’s oldest independent literary award. In 2007, she founded OpenSpace.ru (later renamed Colta. ru), now one of Russia’s leading online journals and the country’s only independent, crowd-­ funded source of cultural information. Stepanova’s latest book has so far been translated into Swedish (Minnen av minnet) and German (Nach dem Gedächtnis), and is under translation into English. Her essays on political and cultural conditions in Russia have been widely published in international media outlets, appearing in English and German.

Espen Stueland (b 1970, Norway) is an author, critic and essayist. He made his literary debut in 1992 with the poetry collection Sakte dans ut av brennende hus, and has subsequently published several collections of poetry and essays, translations and novels. He was named one of Norway’s 10 best authors under the age of 30 by the Norwegian Festival of Literature and Morgenbladet in 2004, and literary critic of the year by the Norwegian Critics’ Association in 2005. In 2003, he received the Halldis Moren Vesaas Prize. Stueland’s work is notable for engaging with science, tackling a range of topics which includes the history of dissection, the climate crisis and the life and work of social scientist Eilert Sundt. This has resulted in his latest publication, the non-fiction poetry collection Eilert Sundt-tilstanden.



S y nne v e S undby

Jør n Ø y r eh a gen S unde

Synneve Sundby (b 1959, Norway) is a translator who has been based in Paris for more than three decades. She specialises in French literature from writers based outside mainland France, with her recent translations including Kamel Daoud’s Zabor (Zabor eller salmene) and Cheik Hamidou Kane’s Ambiguous Adventure (Beretninger om ilden og verdens mørke). Sundby was also the Norwegian translator of Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation, which won the Goncourt First Novel Prize. Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde (b 1972, Norway) took a PhD at the faculty of law in the University of Bergen in 2007, and was appointed a professor in legal history there in the same year. He is currently a professor of law at the University of Oslo. He has been a researcher at the Museum of the Rosendal Barony since 2002, an adjunct professor at the Centre for Medieval Studies in the University of Bergen in 2008-10, and a researcher at the National Library of Norway from 2019. Sunde is a member of the scholarship committee of the Norwegian Non-Fiction Writers and Translators Association (NFFO) and the Norwegian National Museum of Justice.

Gr e t he Fat im a S y éd

T rond-V iggo T orger sen

Grethe Fatima Syéd (b 1968, Norway) is a writer, translator and academic, specialising in the work of Olav Duun. After completing a PhD on Duun’s work at the University of Bergen, she published Olav Duun. Kunsten, døden og kjærlighetens dikter in 2015. As a translator, Syéd has produced Norwegian versions of work by several of the 20th century’s most influential English-language writers, including Seamus Heaney, Gertrude Stein and Henry James. Syéd is also chair of the Torborg Nedreaas Association, and has published an essay book about this well-known author entitled En sommer med Nedreaas (2019). Trond-Viggo Torgersen (b 1952, Norway) is a broadcaster, author, artist and physician. He has worked on a freelance basis for the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) since 1975, and is known for hosting such programmes as Halv sju, Kroppen and Nesten voksen, as well as several series of Flode on children’s TV. Torgersen has been children’s ombudsman, head of programmes for NRK2 and a programme creator in the corporation’s entertainment department. He has published a number of books and records, and his prizes include a Norwegian Grammy for best children’s record. With his droll sense of humour, Torgersen is one of Norway’s best-loved performers. He also teaches patient contact at the University of Bergen.


S a l il T r ipat hi

Id a L ødemel T v ed t

Hedl e y T w idl e

Eir ik Va s senden

Salil Tripathi (b India) is an award-winning journalist and author currently based in New York, where he chairs PEN International’s writers in prison committee. Tripathi studied at the University of Bombay and at Dartmouth College in the USA. He is an award-winning journalist who has been a correspondent in India, Hong Kong and Singapore, and has lived most recently in London where he was a researcher at Amnesty International and senior adviser at the Institute for Human Rights and Business. His articles have appeared in major newspapers around the world. His books include Offence: The Hindu Case (2009), The Colonel Who Would Not Repent (2015) and Detours: Songs of the Open Road (2016).

Hedley Twidle (b 1980, South Africa) is a writer, teacher and researcher based at the University of Cape Town. He has been a regular contributor to international publications such as the Financial Times, the New Statesman and the Sunday Times, and won the inaugural Bodley Head/Financial Times Essay Competition with a piece entitled “Getting Past Coetzee”. Experiments with Truth (2019) is the first book-length study of non-fiction in South African literature. It interrogates the role played by the recent “outpouring of life writing and narrative nonfiction” in South Africa’s continuing political and social transition, with Twidle’s characteristic inclination to get under the country’s skin.

Ida Lødemel Tvedt (b 1987, Norway) is an essayist, critic and author. She has lived in New York for several years, giving lectures on the essay genre at the New School and Columbia University. She works as a journalist for Dag og Tid, as a critic for Klassekampen and as an editor of the literary review Vagant. Lødemel Tvedt made her literary debut in 2019 with Marianegropen, a long essay in 43 parts about literature, culture and popular culture.

Eirik Vassenden (b 1971, Norway) is professor of Nordic literature at the University of Bergen. He teaches and publishes on both older and newer literary works, and is a literary critic and former editor of the Vagant and Edda magazines. His research in recent years has covered literature and ideology, literary criticism and theories of the public sphere. Vassenden has written a number of books, and other roles include serving as editor of Norsk litterær årbok.


Heidi M a r ie V e s t r heim

Sis s V ik

Heidi Marie Vestrheim (b 1977, Norway) is a singer, songwriter, musician and broadcaster. She runs her own record company, BlueBox Records, has issued a number of solo albums and plays in the band Hei Kalas!. Vestrheim has been a presenter at the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK), including the Superkviss quiz show, Julemorgen and Reiseradioen. She has published two quiz books, and contributed to the books Barfot and Gay Kids - Kule barn som også finnes. Her Knølkvalen Kai story from Godnattboka (2007) has become a popular children’s programme. Siss Vik (b 1970, Norway) is a literary critic who works for the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) and presents literature on radio, TV, the web and Instagram. While her ancestry is wholly west Norwegian, she grew up abroad and in eastern Norway. She lives now in eastern Oslo with an author/magician, his daughter and their shared cat.

M a rgunn V ik ing s ta d

S a sk i a V o gel

Margunn Vikingstad (b 1971, Norway) is a literary critic and translator who has studied Nordic languages and literature at the University of Oslo. She was a literary critic in Dag og Tid from 2001 to 2013, and has since contributed criticism to Morgenbladet. In recent years, Vikingstad has combined her work as a critic with translating novels. Her latest work in this field, is Joseph Ponthus' Linjeskift. Vikingstad currently works as a programme adviser at the Bergen House of Literature. Saskia Vogel (b 1981, USA) is a Berlin-based writer and translator whose debut novel was published in four languages in 2019. She has translated from both Swedish and German. Notably, her English translation of Lina Wolff’s The Polyglot Lovers won an English PEN Translates award, while her translation of Karolina Ramqvist’s The White City was shortlisted for the Petrona Award. Her own debut, Permission, was described by the Observer as a “quietly subversive … story about grief, loneliness and sadomasochism”. It has been translated into Spanish, Italian and Swedish, and has already been optioned for television. Her previous roles include global publicist for Granta magazine and co-organiser of Viva Erotica, an annual film festival in Helsinki which explores the art, history and culture of sex on film.


T on je V ol d

Y in Wa ng

Tonje Vold (b 1972, Norway) is an associate professor in the department of archivistics, library and information science at OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan University. Her thesis for a PhD in general comparative literature dealt with the work of South African author J M Coetzee. Vold has published articles on world literature, whiteness and ethics, and co-edited the anthologies Litteratur- og kulturformidling. Nye analyser og perspektiver (with H Ridderstrøm, 2015) and Litteratursosiologiske perspektiv (with K Oterholm and J K Smidt, 2013). Her most recent publication is Å lese verden. Fra imperieblikk og postkolonialisme til verdenslitteratur og økokritikk. Yin Wang (b 1962, China) is one of China’s most influential contemporary poets. Born in Shanghai, he initially built his reputation as a prolific contributor to underground poetry journals and did not publish an “official” collection until 2005. Since then, his Selected Poems have appeared in English translation, and three separate collections have been translated into French. In total, his work has been translated into more than 10 languages. He has also earned widespread acclaim as an art journalist and photographer. His photos have been exhibited in art galleries around the world, and his event Poetry Comes to Museum has been running since 2012. His non-fiction publications include Popped Dream, a collection of essays.


K jer s t i W ol d

K at e Young

Kjersti Wold (b 1962, Norway) is an author especially known for her courses in creative writing. After studying at Aarhus University, she made her literary debut in 1988 with Sarahs stemme and has gone on to publish children’s literature, short stories, play manuscripts and textbooks. She won Gyldendal’s children’s novels competition in 2011. Wold’s Nettopp Jensen series of children’s books has been translated into German and other languages. Together with her husband, she runs the Noesis centre for creativity and communication in Holmestrand. Her last publication is Skriv ditt liv (2015). Kate Young (b 1987, UK) is a Scottish com­­ p­o ser, singer and fiddler based in Edinburgh. While she hails from a Scottish folk and traditional musical background, she currently works across different musical genres and styles from around the world. In 2016, she completed a significant commission for Celtic Connection’s New Voices scheme to write a suite of pieces around the theme of the natural world. Her response – a complete repertoire of songs inspired by British medicinal plants – was met with wide acclaim. Young is part of the Throwing Voices project, a collaboration between writers and musicians which explores the place of indigenous languages and dialects in the 21st century.

T ir il Bro ch A a k r e

Sel m a L ønning A a rø

Tiril Broch Aakre (b 1976, Norway) made her debut in 2013 with the poetry collection Kniplinger. Her first novel, Redd barna, followed in 2015. This received the Young Critics’ Award, and a second novel, Fjällräven gul, was released to critical acclaim the following year. Her third novel, Mødre og døtre, was published in 2019. She was named by Norwegian Literature Abroad (Norla) as one of its New Voices — a group of exceptionally promising Norwegian writers whose work merits international attention. Broch Aakre is also an award-winning translator from English to Norwegian, with her version of Allen Zadoff’s Boy Nobody receiving the Norwegian Ministry of Culture’s translator’s prize in 2014. Selma Lønning Aarø (b 1972, Norway) is a novelist, children’s writer and columnist. She made her literary debut in 1995 with Den endelige historien, which received a prize for best debut novel from the Cappelen publishing house. Her novel Vill ni åka mera was nominated for the Brage Prize in 2003. Lønning Aarø also excels as a humorist – in Stormfulle høyder, for example, which takes an irreverent look at the many complications caused by love. Together with Nils-Øivind Haagensen, she has edited three editions of the Signaler anthology series, showcasing the work of new writers. She has also worked as a columnist for both Dagbladet and Klassekampen.

PHOTOS - Portraits: Tiril Broch Aakre by Heidi Furre, Selma Lønning Aarø by Agnete Brun, B. MiRee Abrahamsen / privat, Cathrine Baglo by Mari Karlstad, Kari Birkeland by BA, Kjersti G. by Berg by CMI, Ingrid Brekke by Kagge Forlag, Kjersti Bjørkmo by Paal Audestad, Ketil Bjørnstad by Frøydis Urbye, James Byrne by Carolyn Forche, Pedro Carmona-Alvarez by Eva Lene Gilje Østensen, Patrick Chamoiseau by Jacques Sassier © Editions Gallimard Lars Saabye Christensen by Magnus Stivi/Hans Jørgen Brun, Christensen by Pernille Marie Walvik, Marie Darrieussecq by Hélène Bamberger, Nhu Diep by Tove K. Breistein, Tishani Doshi by Carlo Pizzati, Marit Eikemo by Eivind Senneset, Anna Fiske by Maja Hattvang, Harald Gaski by Bjørn Hatteng, UiT, Gloria Gervitz by Kevin M. Connors, Teresa Grøtan by Helge Hansen, Frode Grytten by Hans Jørgen Brun/Paul S. Amundsen, Fredrik Stenhjem Hagen by Linn Heidi Stokkedal, Alf van der Hagen by Trude Eng, Eivind Riise Hauge by Vigmostad og Bjørke, Niillas Holmberg by Marja Helander/Paul S. Amundsen, Kristine Hovda by Elvira Nikolaisen, Kristian Hæggernes by Eva Lene Gilje Østensen, Doung Anwar Jahangeer by Fotobooth Durban, Kari Jegerstedt by August Jegerstedt Selnes, Jens M. Johansson by Paal Audestad, Penny Johnson by Raja Shehadeh, Nazneen Kahn-Østrem by Mina Brynildsen Ræge, Khaled Khalifa by Yamam Al Shaar, Jens Kihl by Bård Bøe, Jan Landro by Jan M. Lillebø, Sandra Lillebø by Helge Skodvin, Cecilie Løveid by Helge Skodvin, Lynda Lowery by Robin Cooper, Ingunn Lunde by Paul Meurer, Mazen Maarouf by Raphael Lucas, Annette Mattsson by Gyldendal, Daniel Medin by Mina Magda, Kaja Schjerven Mollerin by Julie Pike, Pippa Murphy by Robin Mitchell, Njabulo Ndebele by Verity Fitzgerald, Erlend O. Nødtvedt by Elias Dahlen, Kristin Skare Orgeret by Sonja Balci, OsloMet, Bjørn Ousland by June Witzøe, Taqralik Partridge by Dean Tomlinson © Art Gallery of Ontario, Frode Helmich Pedersen Privat, Koleka Putuma by Mawande Sobethwa, Vibeke Knoop Rachline by Nikolai Jacobsen, Mary Ruefle by Hannah Ensor and Matt Valentine, Tora de Zwart Rørholt by Tale Hendnes og Carte Blanche, Bjørn Samset by Ruben Solér, Sigri Sandberg Privat, Kjersti Sandvik by Helge Hansen, Raja Shehadeh by Mariana Cook 2010, Øystein Skjælaaen by Joseph Pessar, Sigbjørn Skåden by Tanya Busse, Risten Sokki by Odd Mikael Hætta, Kjersti Løken Stbyrum by Tinius Trust, Thorvald Steen by Trine Hisdal/Per Maning, Jonny Steinberg by Windham-Campbell Prizes, Maria Stepanova by Sergey Melikhov/Andrey Natotsinsky, Laila Stien by Tine Poppe, Espen Stueland by Linn Heidi Stokkedal, Sanaah Sultan by RAFTO, Trond-Viggo Torgersen by Tor Fuglevik, Salil Tripathi by RAFTO, Ida Lødemel Tvedt - Privat/Gyldendal Norsk Forlag, Eirik Vassenden by Jan Alsaker, Heidi Marie Vestrheim by Christine Tintelnot, Saskia Vogel by Nikolaus Kim, Tonje Vold Privat, Kjersti Wold by Trond Jonassen, Kate Young by Emile Holba. ILLUSTRATIONS PHOTOS: p. 22: Photo by Anthony Kwan/ Getty Images, p. 23: Source Finland National Museum, p. 101: Minnen av minnet cover by Eva Wilsson / Nirstedt/ litteratur, Anse Cafard Slave Memorial, Martinique by Fabien R.C./Fotolia, p. 17: Children of Soweto by UN photo, p. 39: Mannen, kvinna og kunsten(1906) av Paula Moderson Becker, p. 10: Cover Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom by Lynda Blackmon Lowery, PEN postkortaksjon by Eivind Sennset , p. 30: Smaksverksted by Margrethe Vikan Sæbø, Leonard Cohen by Adrian Thomson CC, Shaman encounter in Siberia and Around the world in 80 minutes by MiRee Abrahamsen. If not credited otherwise: unsplash.com. Å komme heim til språket illustrasjon: Sophus Tromholt, Universitetsbiblioteket UiB, s 46 norsk.


ESSAYS, POEMS AND TRANSLATIONS Confessions Gunnhild Øyehaug (Norway) I’ve never been caught unaware by dusk. / In leat goassige sevnnjoduvvan. A wordless matriarch / Sánehuvvan áhkoš Niillas Holmberg (Sápmi) 1994: Eit kjærleiksdikt / 1994: A love poem Koleka Putuma (South Africa) Imagining the ordinary Tonje Vold (Norway) Occupation domesticated Penny Johnson and Raja Shehadeh (Palestine) Horse / 马 Men Out of Step With the Times / 不合时宜的人 Yin Wang (China) That day Tiril Broch Aakre (Norway) Morgenmåne / Lune du matin Patrick Chamoiseau (Martinique) A blank page. A dark stage Tishani Doshi (India) My boy Maria Stepanova (Russia)


Confessions I had read popular fiction and not Dostoevsky for a reason: to protect my unique genius. By Gunnhild Øyehaug, author and artistic adviser to LitFestBergen Translated from Norwegian by Kari Dickson

My originality had to be protected so it was not infected by anyone else. Because what would be the point then? If I was to plant my flag where everyone else has planted their flag, as Joni Mitchell said? If there was to be any point at all, I had to make my own flag and find a whole other planet. Which meant I had to avoid reading other writers, so I was sure that whatever I wrote came from me and me alone. That was the only way I would be able, for example, to write texts that would combine utterly incompatible elements, like the idea of birds deep in the bushes and snow falling on gravestones and sex – if that was to spring to mind once upon a time in the future. Reading books that my intellect recognised as being less original, meant not only that I could actually read books (after all, there was nothing I liked more than to read), but I could also protect what was unique, special, particular to everything I might think and write in the future. The only problem was that there is a limit to how much chestnut hair and hazel-brown eyes a person can tolerate, and the question of whether the vagina would burst or not (which, of course, it didn’t! Everything was perfect,

of course!) and whether they would get each other in the end or not, ceased to be interesting after a hundred repeti­ tions, so I solved the problem: I stopped reading altogether. Until my father suggested that I should study literature at the University of Bergen, when I finished school. I had thought of applying to the Academy of Creative Writing in the same town, so I could become a writer, but my father said that I could not afford a whole year without earning any study points. He thought it would be just as good to study literature. The problem was, naturally, that then I would have to read, and what to do then with my fear of being influenced, and how, to make a enormously long story which we cannot be bothered to tell short, did you feel when you had been reading the classics for a year and discovered that you were not the only person in the history of literature who had struggled with the same issue, that even the fear of being influenced was not original, and what did you feel when you found out that there were even literary theories about it, in the book The Anxiety of Influence, by Harold Bloom, for example, and did you start to cry when you read these words: “Poetic Influence is the passing of Indivi-


duals through States, in Blake’s language, but the passing is done ill when it is not a swerving. The strong poet indeed says: ‘I seem to have stopped falling; now I am fallen, consequently, I lie here in Hell’, but he is thinking, as he says this: ‘As I fell, I swerved, consequently I lie here in a Hell improved by my own making’.”? Yes. I did in fact cry when I read Harold Bloom’s The Anxiety of Influence, I confess, and I sat down and wrote a poetry collection with the epigraph “There I am again”, from Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, where nothing at all happens, as we all know, twice. And I laughed when I read about Emma Bovary, who lost herself in romantic literature. And I shook my head when I read about Don Quixote who lost himself in courtly literature, and transformed himself into a knight. The books were full of exclamation marks. “No, not again!” it might say in the margin of a book where I discovered that what I had thought myself had been thought by a completely different person about two thousand years before, when they looked up at the moon and felt lonely. “No!” it says in the margin of the Emily Dickinson poem: “Perhaps I asked too large / I take – no less than skies –/ For Earths,


grow thick as /Berries, in my native Town –.” Because I had just decided to call my poetry collection Slave to the Blueberry. “When someone transforms you, can you tell?” asks the Finnish-Swedish Tua Forsström in a poetry collection. Perhaps the answer is yes, you notice it in those moments when you come into contact with the fact that you have a soul. And that a soul is not something that is alone. That year of reading was a year of transformation. The snow still fell on the gravestones. The wind still shook the trees, the stars still shone in the sky. People wore yellow dresses in Italy, people forgot to take off the plastic shoe covers when they left institutions where you have to wear plastic shoe covers if you want to wear shoes indoors, other people experienced a fear of dying when they brought new people into the world. The water lilies kept being water lilies, etc. And yet nothing was the same. Extract from the essay One Another, published by LitHub Gunnhild Øyehaug sits on the advisory board of the Bergen International Literary Festival.

A wordless matriarch

I’ve never been caught unaware by dusk.

Niillas Holmberg Translations by Niillas Holmberg and Annikki Herranen-Tabibi.

Niillas Holmberg Translations by Niillas Holmberg and Annikki Herranen-Tabibi.

A wordless matriarch gently sways in a rocking chair creaking like an oarlock.

I’ve never been caught unaware by dusk. As a boy I smelled the branched lightnings of birches and as we played hide and seek, some of us got seen bearing memories of light.

She knows what she’s doing – with every stroke the boat floats closer, closer …

In leat goassige sevnnjoduvvan. Mánnán susttašin sogiid oaksiluvvan álddagasaid ja go mii čiehkádattaimet, moattis mis oainnahalle muittuideametguin čuovggas.

I’d like a story, but she’s weary and retires like the night mist separating from the river.

Sánehuvvan áhkoš suolggaid heilloda sukkástuolus gihčá dego ákŋu.

I tend to the fire and sit in the chair the boat warms me, god is a verb.

Diehtá maid dahká – juohke sugastemiin fanas suohčá lagabuidda, lagabuidda … Muital juoidá, muhto áhkoš lea váiban suotnjá seŋgii dego idjasuoldni mii oktii datge johka. Dassalan dola ja čohkánan stullui fanas liekkista, ipmil lea vearba.

From the poetry collection Juolgevuođđu(Sole) by Niillas Holmberg (Dat, 2018). Niillas Holmberg will be participating at LitFestBergen 2020.



1994: Eit kjærleiksdikt

1994: A love poem

Koleka Putuma Translated from English by Njord V. Svendsen

I want someone who is going to look at me and love me the way that white people look at and love Mandela.

Eg vil ha nokon som vil sjå på meg og elske meg slik dei kvite ser på og elskar Mandela. Nokon som vil halde fast i minnet om meg Slik dei kvite held fast i arven etter Mandela.   Ein kjærast som vil bygge Robben Island bak huset og få meg til å tru at eg har ein hage og frisk luft, ein regnboge og fridom.   Ein sanningskommisjonskjærast   Du forstår ikkje kjærleik før du er blitt elska som Mandela. Du forstår ikkje svik før du er blitt elska som Mandela. Du forstår ikkje faenskap før du er blitt elska som Mandela. Du forstår ikkje skitsnakk før du er blitt elska som Mandela.   Og dette er ein av dei mange restane frå slaveriet: å vere elska som Mandela.

Someone who is going to hold onto my memory the way white people hold onto Mandela’s legacy. A lover who will build Robben Island in my backyard and convince me that I have a garden and fresh air, a rainbow and freedom. A TRC kind of lover. You don’t know love until you have been loved like Mandela. You don’t know betrayal until you have been loved like Mandela You don’t know fuckery until you have been loved like Mandela. You don’t know msunery until you have been loved like Mandela. And this is one of the many residues of slavery: being loved like Mandela. From Collective Amnesia (Uhlanga 2017) Koleka Putuma will be participating at LitFestBergen 2020.



Imagining the ordinary The novel The Cry of Winnie Mandela by Njabulo S Ndebele explores the meaning of South Africa itself: Can it be a home after all the violence, all the exiles, the forced removal and destruction, and if so, on what terms? By Tonje Vold, associate professor, Oslo Metropolitan University

The cultural and social lives of ordinary people stand at the heart of political processes. This is one of the main strands of thought that run through the literary and academic writing of Ndebele, South Africa’s famous author and intellectual. As an academic and fiction writer, Ndebele consistently points out how social practices, stories and cultures come to define economics, politics and history, not the other way around. The frictions and intersections of nation- and community-building, a sense of place and a sense of home, public representation and personal stories, formal and informal businesses, cultural and official calendars, are other poignant themes in Ndebele’s work. His own life tells a South African story of departure and return, where combinations of roots and routes come to form influential new ideas. Born in 1948, the very year the apartheid policy was

launched, Ndebele escaped the limited “Bantu education” available to the black majority in the country because his parents sent him to a boarding school in Swaziland. In the 1960s, when South Africa’s apartheid policies hardened while other African nations faced decolonization, Ndebele studied at the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. He became involved in the Black Consciousness movement, the political student organisation led by Steve Biko. He continued his studies in English and creative writing up to PhD level at Cambridge and Denver, and stayed in exile in Lesotho. Ndebele finally returned to Cape Town just before the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990. Since then, he has held top administrative positions at four of South Africa’s universities and now heads the prestigious Nelson Mandela Foundation.


Since social life is the very content of politics, Ndebele maintains, authors need to be attentive to the rich nuances of people’s ordinary lives for literature to be politically relevant. As early as the 1970s, when South African literary writing was highly politicised, Ndebele boldly carved out a space for literature that was autonomous, inclusive of a variety of experiences and artistic forms, and yet derived its validity from society, from its relevance for the majority population in the context of harsh domination. A decade later, his now classic essay “The Rediscovery of the Ordinary. Some New Writing in South Africa” (1984) sparked a debate regarding the form, content and purpose of South African literature. Contemporary literature was at that point too narrow, formally and thematically, nurtured by what Ndebele calls “the spectacular”. The spectacular is associated with a documentary style, exteriority and lack of nuance. Importantly, the spectacular does not provide the majority in South Africa with knowledge but promotes a feeling of helplessness. Consistent with Ndebele’s earlier work, in the late 1990s he saw the transition from the apartheid regime to a democratic republic as a continuing social process, not an event. The work of the truth and reconciliation commission enabled the testimonies of


ordinary South Africans to be heard and provided a rare and “living example of people reinventing themselves through narrative”, he said in 1998. But “the real challenge” was “to stimulate the imagination of its people through voices that go beyond the giving of testimony, towards creating new thoughts and new worlds”. Ndebele’s most famous literary work, the novel The Cry of Winnie Mandela (2003), probes the meaning of South Africa itself, and can be read in light of the importance of moving beyond testimony, beyond symbols and beyond the spectacular. In the collective global memory, the event of the postapartheid transition is the release of Nelson Mandela. What happened to Winnie and Nelson Mandela when the camera who followed the couple to their doorstep disappeared, one might wonder? However, Ndebele metaphorically flips the camera to point at the onlookers: what about you, the novel asks, what now, nation? Contraposing Winnie Mandela’s extraordinary life with the “ordinary” lives of South African women exposes their entanglements. Four women tell their life stories in relation to, and addressed to, Winnie Mandela. All of them have been women waiting: for husbands away in the mines, husbands in exile, husbands who have abandoned them.

The novel underlines the position of women, domestic life and women’s work in the history of old and “new” South Africa. With the same keen eye and interest Ndebele uses in his essays to analyse the meaning of social activities – black tourists resting at a game lodge, the skills involved in organising funerals, or the strengths of informal transport systems – he scrutinised waiting. As a South African activity, it is gendered, it signals strength, resilience and resistance, but it also involves loneliness, loss, hopelessness. As a gendered and literary activity, Ndebele roots it far back and in Western literature: the ladies are “descendants” of Homer’s Penelope. Coming to terms with what Winnie meant to the narrators means confronting what the nation was, has become, and can be. “Is a country of so much dislocation still a home?”, one of the characters wonders. With Winnie as a prism, the contradictions between the old and new nation­building narratives of South Africa are exposed. Winnie is the hero activist, who is cast as a wife. She is the champion for justice, who stands behind murder and torture. She is the waiting wife, who has love affairs. She is the one whom Nelson returns to, and the one he divorces. The “mother of the nation” who refuses to bend.

While Nelson spread Madiba magic, she became a truly contested character in the story of postapartheid nation-building. The novel thereby explores the meaning of South Africa itself: can it be a home after all the violence, all the exiles, the forced removal and destruction, and if so, on what terms? The imagination, interiority and nuances sought are truly here. As the essays may turn from cultural analysis to ask how energy and skills can be fuelled into politics, the novel about waiting does not end at a standstill. When Winnie Mandela finally answers the ladies, it is with a true cry. At the end of the book, all of them take off in Penelope’s car. The novel combines the metafictive, the documentary, and quotes from the truth and reconciliation commission. It is realist and imaginative fiction. It is a truly outstanding novel which manifests Ndebele’s ideas of what literature can do, the compelling contexts it provides, the styles and ideas it can contain, its infinite questions. The novel thereby stimulates the imagination far beyond what is ordinary, and far beyond the borders of South Africa, creating new thoughts and new worlds.

Njabulo S Ndebele and Tonje Vold will both be participating at LitFestBergen 2020.



Occupation domesticated Everyday returns after violence like the rain after droughts, Ramallah residents and authors Raja Shahadeh and Penny Johnson write in this dialogue-essay.

Penny: “Come and visit us in Palestine,” we said this summer to friends abroad. “It’s not all like the news.” It’s a refrain we have often repeated, but what are we really saying, I wonder? Raja: By its very nature, the news only reports the dramatic stories in the life of a country involved in conflict – and we must admit that Palestine has more than its fair share of such stories. But there is also more to our daily life than what the Israeli occupation imposes on us. There is the beauty of the land, the active cultural life which, despite everything, continues to flourish and, above all, the variegated experience of how our Pale­ stinian society is coping after 50 years of Israeli occupation of our land. Penny: I agree. It’s possible to think of two pathways to finding everyday Palestine. One is simply to domesticate the extraordinary and the threatening. When the Israeli air force bombed a Ramallah police station (fortunately vacated) in 2001, the first terrible year of the violence-wracked second inti-

fada, my friend Rita, who lives near the station, briskly reduced this frightening event to a housekeeping task: “So much dust,” she said, “so much dust just after I had cleaned the whole house.” The other direction is to rejoice in all the intimate joys of daily life, from cauliflowers successfully grown in our garden (finally!) to long lazy conversations with friends over a glass of wine, to family weddings and high-school graduations, to a spring walk in a nearby wadi along an ancient path dotted with wild poppies and the occasional pyramid orchid. Raja: Sometimes we can go a bit too far, or at least I have that tendency. Do you remember my reaction at the beginning of the second intifada in the Autumn of 2000, when I decided to deny that any­thing out of the ordinary was taking place, and insisted on pursuing my writing and life as though the ground under our feet was not trembling. What put a stop to that was when an Israeli helicopter gunship bombed an empty house near a hotel where an engagement party of a relative of mine was taking place.


The one-tonne bomb shattered the glass of the hotel, ended the party and also my obdurate denial that we were entering a new intifada that would disrupt our life for the next four years. Penny: Yes, we were hard-pressed to enjoy the everyday although it never entirely vanished. Remember how much we enjoyed riding across Ramallah to buy roasted nuts from Audeh when a curfew was finally lifted? Raja: Delicious! And after those terrible years and the loss of so many lives, both Palestinian and Israeli, the everyday returned in force, as it invariably does – like rain after one of the long droughts that also plague our region. Our everyday pleasures remind me of the delicate cyclamen plant that grows in the cracks of our stony limestone landscape in early spring – something to celebrate. These celebrations perhaps have the fragility of spring wildflowers, shattered sometimes by larger, tragic events. Another kind of “rain” in the summer of 2006, Israel’s “Operation Summer Rain”, ushered in the wars and siege that persist to this day in the embattled enclave of Gaza. Penny: As Gaza endured a siege that has now lasted more than a decade, Ramallah boomed into what is called the “Ramallah bubble”, with its museums and galleries,


music and film, and the amazing talents of our young people (including in Gaza, by the way). Young artists, writers and filmmakers create in their imagination possibilities which do not at present exist in our oppressive political landscape. Of course, everyday Ramallah has its own irritations. No one likes being stuck in a Ramallah traffic jam behind a herd of SUVs or witnessing a phenomenon we share with the rest of the world: growing economic inequality. Raja: Ramallah’s everyday is the subject of my new book. I was determined to mark the half-century of Israeli occupation with a walk around Ramallah. I left the house in the morning and returned in the evening, spending the day walking in the city where I’ve lived for most of my life. Going Home, A Walk through Fifty Years of Occupation celebrates the life of ordinary people who, despite all the hardships, have managed to persevere, raise families, start businesses and go on with their life adapting to all the complications of a foreign rule that is more in the nature of a colonization than an occupation, one that hopes to replace one people with another on their land with all that this entails. This makes it all the more important to assert life by celebrating it through writing

Penny: My book, Companions in Conflict, Animals in Occupied Palestine, also values the everyday and explores how our daily life and its moments of joy and sadness intertwine with what can be characterised as everyday violence. Do you remember the day when we went to visit the West Bank’s only zoo? We were not expecting much. Yet to our amazement we found the pleasant grounds full of children enjoying an outing. But then we also heard the chief vet’s account of a giraffe literally frightened to death during Israel’s military incursion into the town. On another occasion, sitting with shepherds in the southern West Bank, sipping delicious cardamom-scented coffee, I was told of the very real threat that the Israeli army will demolish their community. But one shepherd also said that he remains on the land despite the threat because life there is “far away from urban problems”. Watching an older man bring a small flock over a hill, I began to see what he meant. Everyday pleasures sustain us in the midst of profound uncertainty. Raja: I’ve often thought that living in a conflict zone makes us even more attuned and attentive to the pleasures of the everyday in order not to be swept away by the greater events happening all around. For a writer, there is never a dearth of subjects to write about though it can, at times, get overwhelming. The experience

both of living history and writing about it can be daunting. It requires that one learns when to take a break, make a pot of tea, and watch the Palestine sunbird flit among the flowering blossoms in the garden. Penny: The Ramallah bubble, in the midst of a tenacious occupation, can be a strange location where so many realities co-exist. Last week, the Israeli army raided our neighbourhood before we woke up to a pleasant lunch with friends in a serene garden restaurant and an evening jazz festival. Sometimes, I wonder whether the everyday can tilt us towards a normalisation of the occupation. But then I think that the best of the cultural ferment in Ramallah and elsewhere in Palestine does the opposite. For example, the Qalandiya International Biennale is named after the infamous checkpoint that separates Ramallah and the rest of the West Bank from Arab Jerusalem. Last year, the Biennale crossed borders beyond Qalandiya, hosting events not only in Ramallah, Haifa and other Palestinian cities, but collateral events in Cape Town, Dusseldorf, San Francisco, Swansea and other cities around the world. Undeniably we are under occupation – but we also claim a place as everyday citizens of the world. Raja Shehadeh and Penny Johnson are both participating at LitFestBergen 2020.

Cotidianidad Has dejado atrás las grandes tormentas. Entonces no te preguntaste por qué existÍas, de dÓnde venÍas y adÓnde ibas, simplemente estabas en la tempestad, estabas en el fuego. Pero también se puede vivir en la cotidianidad, el tranquilo dÍa gris, plantar patatas, rastrillar la hojarasca y recoger ramas secas, hay tanto en qué pensar aquÍ en el mundo, una vida entera no basta. Tras el trabajo puedes freÍr carne de cerdo y leer poesÍa china. El viejo Laertes podaba rosales y cavaba en torno e la higuera y dejaba que los héroes combatiesen en Troya. Olav H. Hauge Published by Biblioteca Golpe de Dados Translated by Francisco J. Uriz




Men Out of Step with the Times

Yin Wang Translated by Andrea Lingenfelter

Yin Wang Translated by Andrea Lingenfelter You tell me you miss those slow paced days of the past the equally leisurely pace of bicycles and leaky wristwatches We’re both out of step with the times, lifting our old-fashioned cups of coffee drinking a cup to Caroline, another to poverty drinking a toast to the season of mental confusion another to the unrelenting snowfall and another to the listening devices of yore The last cup we drink is to ourselves men out of step with the times You should know how happy it makes me to imagine you in an utterly unfamiliar city like Jerusalem or Marrakesh or some other city whose name neither of us can pronounce And some day when my head is in the clouds I might happen to run into you on a rainy street Thus, when I pause for a moment while writing you it’s just me with my head in the clouds again As soon I send the email, that’s when the relentless wind and rain come to a halt at last

My horse heads home alone in the rain Its coat the color of my scarred right hand The eyes of my horse are half closed As it walks with small steps, heading home Drinking wine, beside the picture window of the wine shop I see only its thin and bony silhouette It’s heading home, its head lowered like mine when I’m silent But so much more a gentleman than me And I will travel far away, my eyes bloodshot Sitting at this table with its puddles of spilled wine Watching my horse Heading home alone in the rain

马 我的马在雨中独自回家 它的毛色像我满布伤痕的右手 我的马双目微闭 迈着细步回家 我喝着酒,隔着酒馆的长窗 只能看到它瘦削的侧面 它正在回家,像我沉默时一样低着头 但远比我像个绅士

不合时宜的人 你对我说,怀念那些 缓慢的旧日子 同样缓慢的自行车 和漏水的手表 我们都是不合时宜的人,端着不合时宜的咖啡 这一杯敬卡洛琳,这一杯敬贫穷

而我要远行,两眼通红 坐在酒液乱流的桌旁 看着我的马 在雨中独自回家

这一杯敬神经错乱的季节 这一杯敬无休无止的雪 敬过时的窃听器 最后一杯敬我们自己 这些不合时宜的人 你该知道,我多么乐意把你 放在一个极其陌生的城市里 譬如耶路撒冷 譬如马拉喀什 或者那些我们都念不出地名的城市 好让我在走神的时候 在被雨淋湿的街道上与你不期而遇 所以,给你写信停笔的时候 就是一如既往地走神 我发送电子邮件的瞬间,就是 永无止境的暴风雨 终于停歇的时刻

Yin Wang will be participating at LitFestBergen 2020.


That day By Tiril Broch Aakre. Translated by Matt Bagguley

That day. My father-in-law, the kids and I go to Øygarden, where my parents-in-law have a holiday home. The kids and I stroll down the lane to the little grocery store. I take some photos on the way, since I want the children’s book I’m writing to be set here. I’ve decided to write children’s books, cheerful books, the ones my children enjoy reading. No more novels about grief and misery. I take photos of the channel flowing in from the sea and past the shop. There’s a high tide and the water is sparkling. It’s this sparkling that I want to remember, so that I can describe it in detail. At 13.03, I text: “Hello, how are you doing?” I take photos of cow parsley swaying by the roadside, while the children balance on a wall beside it. I want to remember what flowers grow there, because I think the children in the book should pick them and draw them in a summer diary, as K and I always did during the summer holidays when we were little. I take photos of the little shelf full of paperbacks in the shop, for the scenes where the kids go to the store. One of the books is called Life in a Day. I remember thinking: She can’t die while I stand here looking at a book called Life in a Day. My daughter sorts through the packets of chewing-gum on the counter while I figure out what we should buy, although I no longer remember what that was, but suppose it could be ketchup or bread or a disposable barbecue for our walk to the cave later. And we need to hurry since there’s a storm due to blow in at 18.00. Now it’s calm and sunny, but the weather can change suddenly here. I take photos of the walk. First in the little troll’s forest,


with its crooked trees. The wind is now blowing, the trees creak and groan, and we pretend that there really are trolls there. The time is 14.08. My mother still hasn’t responded to the text I sent her at 09.58 – “Hi, how have you been?”, I had written. I’m upset that she hasn’t answered because she’s been replying quickly just lately. But I console myself with the though that this has happened before, that she is perhaps busy with something, or that her mobile phone battery has run out and she has forgotten the charger. We find some dried-out crab claws on the rocks, which crumble as we pick them up. My father-in-law tells us that the seagulls drop the crabs onto the rocks to break their shells. I remember walking over the rocks with my phone in the breast pocket of my raincoat, so I’d feel it vibrate if it rang. I’m ashamed at how I’m too cowardly to call her, at how I keep putting it off. The wind has really whipped up, but I’m reluctant to pull my hood up because I want to be able to hear the phone if it rings. My mother’s intense suffering was now unbearable to me. How else could I cope with it other than by trying to shield myself from it, force myself to forget it? I’d been living in two worlds for so long, and it was so hard to be in both at the same time. I had somehow to choose which world I was going to be in and focus on that. That was how I thought about it afterwards – that it wasn’t possible to be in two places at the same time, constantly to take in what was really going on in my mother’s world and to try to sort it out. My brain just couldn’t do it. It would cope for


periods, but then I’d collapse afterwards. I was ashamed that I couldn’t cope with it, but I’d tried as best I could to make it work. Had I tried as best I could? Yes I had! In the weeks and months that followed, I would cry to S, telling him that: “I didn’t do everything I could, and she was is in such an awful state. My pain was nothing compared to hers”. And he said, over and over: “You and K did every­ thing you could, more than you should have done!”. I follow my children and father-in-law over the rocks on that Saturday – film a video clip of the children squatting in a small cove as the waves lash the shore, and as the water recedes the undertow makes a loud, gurgling sound. I take a picture of my father-in-law and the children with their backs to me in front of the cave entrance, which is actually a ravine that cuts through the mountain. I remember walking behind them into the ravine, and that we had to squeeze through the narrowest sections. I remember thinking: She can’t die while I’m squeezing my way through a ravine, it’s too absurd, it’s too symbolic, like being born again, but from a mountain instead of a mother. On our way back, I take pictures of a family grave in the local graveyard, which I send to S, who is spending time with a childhood friend. We walk around looking for the graveyard for some time before we find it. Do I see it as a good sign that we found the grave? The children run around pointing at the graves they think are nicest, and I take note of what they like, but something else within me says: Don’t look for signs, don’t think symbolically, be rational. I’m thinking: She can’t die while we go looking for a grave in a graveyard! But she does. She dies that day. In the middle of a quite ordinary day. Extract from the novel Mødre og døtre (Mothers and Daughters) Tiril Broch Aakre will be participating at LitFestBergen 2020.

Vie de tous les jours Les grandes tempêtes sont derrière toi Tu ne demandais pas alors pourquoi tu existais, d'oÙ tu venais, oÙ tu allais, tu étais juste dans la tempête, tu étais dans le feu. Mais on peut vivre aussi la vie de tous les jours, le calme jour gris, planter des patates, ratisser les feuilles et porter des branches. Tant de choses à penser dans ce monde, une vie d'homme n'y suffit pas. Après la besogne tu peux faire frire du lard et lire des vers chinois. Le vieux Laërte taillait des èglantiers, creusait des trous autor de ses figuiers et lassait les hèros se battre à Troie. Olav H. Hauge Published by Bleu autor Translated by Eva Sauvegrain and Pierre Grouix



A blank page. A dark stage


Festival author Tishani Doshi on the fear­less­­ness required in both writing and dancing.

Patrick Chamoiseau Translated by Thomas Lundbo

det hender den gjør seg usynlig uten et knyst eller signal bare følbar for det aller letteste   umerkelig   lik en intelligens som organiserer himmelen og som skyenes alkymi forsøker å innånde   ingenting da fordømmer natten eller trøster dagen ingenting er helt sikkert håpet er tvunget til å tie og leve som best det kan med hva det får   lekse i kjærlighet som skal oppleves lekse lært av livet   15.06.17

I am an accidental dancer. I started late, at 26, but immediately understood that dance was going to exert an influence over every area of my life, particularly literature.

Lune du matin parfois, elle se fait invisible sans murmure ou signal  juste sensible au plus léger   impalpable   comme une intelligence qui organise le ciel et que tentent d’aspirer l’alchimie des nuages   rien alors ne condamne la nuit ou ne conforte le jour rien n’est bien assuré l’espérance est réduite à se taire et à vivre au mieux ce qui lui est donné   leçon d’amour à vivre leçon de vie   15 06 17

Patrick Chamoiseau will be participating at LitFestBergen 2020.


For many years, it seemed that the movement would only be in one direction, from dance to language. Dance exerts discipline. You must bring your body to the theatre every morning regardless of mood. Legs and arms must move. Breath must be manipulated. There is no room for cheating. A dancer, unlike a writer, cannot stare into a screen and convince themselves they are composing epic poems in their heads. A dancer must do. There is also the whole area of time and rhythm that is held in the body. It forces a kind of tautness, a ruthlessness. As the muscles in your legs and back strengthen, you begin to expect a similar flexibility and conciseness in language. Killing your darlings becomes easier. But over many years of dancing, I’ve begun to see the direction of influence isn’t just one way. My work as a poet, the many layers and distillations that language must go through before it becomes a poem —that was crucial in allowing me to understand embodiment


in dance. Poetry facilitates transfor­ mations because it is about essence. And then there’s loneliness. No one knows loneliness as a writer does. Having spent so many hours by myself, I know it to be a strength. On stage I may be joined by musicians, my dance partner, lights, but ultimately, I know that I have to hold my centre. Perhaps the most surprising thing that poetry allowed me was to transcend any sense of gender on stage. Dance is all about the body. It’s impossible to escape anatomy. All my dance work was laid on the foundations of male and female energies. But literature is a magical arena where you experience the greatest freedom in the imagination. All binaries fall away. After a time, I began to lose sense of male and female. I felt like an amoeba, one of those creatures coming out of the sea to land for the very first time, and it was the most empowered I have ever felt. Eventually, there is a shared vulnerability between dance and poetry. It requires a kind of fearlessness. The beginnings are always the same. A blank page. A dark stage. From this, something must come. A word. A gesture. Tishani Doshi will be participating at LitFestBergen 2020.

My boy He might have passed for a Cupid, were it not for the long socks. By Maria Stepanova Translated by Ingunn Lunde, professor of Russian

I knew I already had the real alef of this story in my pocket. It was a small, three-centimetres-long white porcelain figure – a very basic moulding of a naked curly boy who might have passed for a Cupid, were it not for the long socks. I bought him at a Moscow antiques market, where they realised untimely that the past is an expensive business. But some cheap things could still be found, and so on a tray with all sorts of jewellery, I saw a box containing a whole heap of these white boys. The strangest thing was that there was not a single whole one among them, they all displayed all sorts of injuries: some were without legs or face, and all of them were in shards and scars. I searched through them for a long time, looking for a handsome example, and at last found the most beautiful one. It was almost entirely preserved and shone with the brightness of a gift. The curls and dimples were in place, as were the ribbed socks, and neither the dark spot on the back nor the missing arms prevented me from enjoying his good looks. Of course, I still asked the seller if she had a boy who was entirely intact, and in return I heard a story that I decided to check up. These cheap figures, she said, were produced in a German city for a period of 50 years, starting from the late 1880s. They were sold anywhere, in grocery and hardware stores, but their main purpose was another: cheap and unpretentious, they were used as shock absorbers during the transport of goods – so that the heavy objects of the century would not rip off each other’s sides in the dark. In other words, the boys were produced in a deliberate expectation of injury. Then, before the war, the factory closed down. Warehouses filled

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with porcelain products were locked up until they came under bombardment – and, sometime later, when the boxes were opened, everything turned out to be shattered. I bought my boy, then, without writing down the name of the factory or the phone number of the seller, but knowing for certain that I was carrying away the ending of this book in my pocket: the solution in the task book commonly found on the last pages. The figure was about everything at once. About the fact that no story reaches us in its entirety, without punched feet and chipped faces. About the fact that lacunae and gaps are the constant companion of survival, its hidden engine, its mechanism of acceleration. About the fact that only trauma turns us from a mass product into distinct individuals. And, of course, about the fact that I myself am such a boy, a result of mass production, a derivative of the collective catastrophe of the past century, its survivor and unwitting beneficiary, who miraculously survived and found herself in the world.

Extract from the book Pamiati pamiati (In Memory of Memory) The original Russian edition was published in 2017 by Novoe Izdatelstvo. © Maria Stepanova 2017. © Suhrkamp Verlag Berlin 2018. All rights reserved by and controlled through Suhrkamp Verlag Berlin. Maria Stepanova and Ingunn Lunde will both be participating at LitFestBergen 2020.


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