Lillehammer Festival of Literature

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Every year, on the 20th of May, the birthday of the Norwegian author Sigrid Undset and Nobel prize nominee, is celebrated by the Lillehammer Literature Festival through multi-genre performances.

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When spring has sprung in Lillehammer it is teeming with life. From 20th of May and for six whole days there are books and authors everywhere you look.

This year the international highlights were among others the Belarusian Nobel prize nominee Svetlana Aleksijevitsj, one of the leading figures of British literature, Julian Barnes, and the young Danish poet Yahya Hassan.

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The opening performance was a dramatic homage to Sigrid Undset. Ellen Horn was cast in the role of Undset. Other cast members were Norwegian authors Herbjorg Wassmo and Synne Lea, along with Coratian author Slavenka Drakulic and Marie Aljokhina from the Russian punk poetry group Pussy Riot.

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With a focus on freedom of expression and authors’ struggles with the words, a geographic plunge into the social conditions and literature of Russia and Eastern Europe, the powerful works of Nordic authors, a dose of new Norwegian drama, poetry and food on the menu, this was a festival that not only entertained, but challenged and inspired the visitors in addition to provide new knowledge.

Through literary encounters and lectures the guests had the chance to experience that an arc was drawn, extending all the way from the smallest of stories told in personal voices, to the large social issue about war, peace and democracy of expression during this year’s festival.

The Lillehammer Festival of Literature consisted of more than 200 events and was therefore a social meeting place for everyone fond of literature and debate, and Lillehammer is the place to be every year from May 20.

All photos: Tor Kjolberg