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The festival programme 2021 is launched

The programme for the 2021 Bergen International Literary Festival has been unveiled. With Generations as its theme, LitFestBergen is being staged for the third time on 10-14 February at the Bergen House of Literature.

Its duration has been extended by an extra day, and festival director Teresa Grøtan reports that the administration is well prepared to implement the event despite the uncertainties posed by coronavirus restrictions.

“The programme has the same mix of fiction and non-fiction, national and international as before, and a profile which emphasises debate and conversation on key issues of our time,” she says.

Literature Live Around the World

LitFestBergen’s major international commitment in 2021 has grown out of the day of the coronavirus and the question of how close we can get to international authors without having them actually on the stage in Bergen,

The answer is Literature Live Around the World, a collaboration project where 12 festivals and literature centres in every continent have joined forces to provide a unique literary programme.

Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation presenters Siss Vik and Mona B Riise will lead this marathon multinational venture from Bergen on Friday 12 February.

“We’re live and direct from 12.00 to 00.00, non-stop,” reports Grøtan. “The audience in Bergen and all around the world can join in a very varied journey, both cultural and literary.

“We begin with a reading by Karl Ove Knausgård and a great national programme in Bergen before ‘travelling’ to the House of Literature in Kabul, taking the literary big-city pulse at Lagos in Nigeria and meeting well-known authors in San FranciscoWe will stroll in the streets of Buenos Aires, visit the world’s biggest literary festival at Jaipur in India, enjoy a young and hard-hitting programme from the renowned literary festival in Edinburgh, and conclude with dub poetry at sunset in Treasure Beach, Jamaica.

All 12 partners and the full content of the programme will be presented when the printed catalogue appears on 12 January 2021.

Extensive youth programme

Over three days, school students in Bergen will meet and interview authors with powerful messages on such subjects as identity and racism, climate and the environment, and freedom of expression and polarisation.

Dag O Hessen, twice winner of the Brage Prize, Simon Stranger, Maria Navarro Skaranger and Yohan Shanmugaratnam from Norway, America’s Jason Reynolds and Iranian Fatemeh Ekhtesari are among the authors taking part.

LitFestBergen will also be announcing the winner of its international essay competition for young people born after 1990. Nineteen finalists have been selected from among almost 550 entries across 90 countries.

And the festival is expanding its programme for children and families in collaboration with the Bergen Public Library.

Knausgård, Renberg, Fagerholm

Knausgård also gives an exclusive interview from his London home about Morgenstjernen, his latest novel. Tore Renberg will talk with Inger Merete Hobbelstad about her prizewinning book Tollak til Ingeborg.

Cecilie Løveid, who celebrates her 70th birthday in 2021, is interviewed by Alf van der Hagen. And we get to meet Monika Fagerholm, 2020 winner of the Nordic Council Literature Prize.

Olaug Nilssen, Gunnhild Øyehaug, Sandra Lillebø, Pedro Carmona-Alvarez, Steinar Opstad and newcomer Karoline Brændjord are other high-profile fiction authors in the programme.

Generations, debate and conversation

LitFestBergen will be staging several inter-generational conversations on such subjects as newspaper commentary yesterday and today, freedom of expression and nature experiences through the eyes of Irish 16-year-old Dara McAnulty as well as Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson.

Conversations will also be held on Sami history, housewives from the perspective of Norwegian and immigrant history, and grandchildren’s views of the Second World War with Marte Michelet og Simon Stranger.

Social anthropologist Thomas Hylland Eriksen, biologist Dag O Hessen and literary scholar Frode Helmich Pedersen meet journalist Hilde Sandvik for a conversation on pandemics, people and literature.

Tore Renberg will moderate a debate on “what is a novel?” with literary critic Ingunn Økland, author Sandra Lillebø and Eirik Vassenden, a professor of Nordic literature.

Festival attendees can also look forward to such regular events as Around the World in 80 Minutes, the World on Saturday, a poetic punk gala, the regional semi-final in the Norwegian slam poetry championship, Ask the Author and Open Mike.


Contact festival director Teresa Grøtan at +47 922 88 550/


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