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Palestinian author Adania Shibli - photo Eivind Senneset

Newsletter 7 March 2024

Dear friends of literature

A month has passed since the sixth edition of the Bergen International Literary Festival was held at the House of Literature in Bergen, Norway. The opening ceremony received a lot of public attention in the Norwegian media, especially Palestinian author Adania Shibli who held her award acceptance speech that had been cancelled at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2023. Shibli, suffering from a cold after a trip to Finnmark as part of an art collaboration with the Bergen Assembly, was movingly given a standing ovation by the audience.

The Norwegian broadcaster NRK wrote several radio, TV and internet stories about Shibli and the festival. Norwegian author Gunnhild Øyehaug, who is on the advisory board for the festival, wrote an essay about Shibli, which has been published in Norwegian and in English on

We sold a record number of tickets this year. Not surprisingly, the two events with Karl Ove Knausgård were the first to be sold out. Knausgård refused to speak to the press, however with one important exception, the student paper Studvest (in Norwegian).

119. That is the number of countries we received submissions from, in our writing competition held in collaboration with the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research and the Rafto Foundation. The two winners, Carissa Coane from California (poetry) and Maya Teiman (personal essay) from Brazil answered the question: “Write your personal story about the climate crisis”. The British paper The Guardian later wrote an editorial about how this competition worked as a bridge between climate science and the arts, and about LitFestBergen as an example of why literary festivals still play an important role in society.

The final act Hjørdis, Yngve, Maxine and Teresa in the administration took together, was to speak about specific places that have meant a lot to each of them, during the Sunday session “Around the world in 80 minutes”. This will remain a cherished memory, as Yngve has subsequently started a new position in Vinje, Norway, and Hjørdis will soon start in her new role as the daily manager of the House of Literature. An unabridged version of Teresa’s text about the place Hadsel and the record Hadsel (by Beirut) has been published in the literary journal Vinduet (in Norwegian).

Finally – please take a look at these great photos taken by our festival photographer Eivind Senneset.

The next festival will be held on 5–9 February 2025. See you then!

On behalf of the administration,

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