Louisiana’s international literature festival celebrates a diverse selection of the best contemporary literature from all around the world. The authors performs on stages all around the museum with a wide selection of modes of expression such as readings, conversations, discussions, songs and performance pieces.
Louisiana Literature 2018 will be held from 23-26 August. For updates on the program please follow us on instagram
INTERNATIONAL AUTHORS 2018 OVERVIEW
Anne Carson, Javier Marías, Péter Nádas, Delphine de Vigan, Teju Cole and many more... The 2018 Literature festival invites you to experience acclaimed authors from countries like Mexico, Germany, Morocco, Bulgaria, Japan, Argentina, Canada, France, Spain, Ireland and the USA. The festival will feature authors known and unknown from a wide range of genres and modes of expression on indoor and outdoor stages around the museum and in the Sculpture Park.
This year we are proud to be able to present Javier Marías (b. 1951), considered one of Spain’s greatest living writers, mentioned every year among the candidates for the Nobel Prize – “one of the few who deserve that prize,” according to Orhan Pamuk. Marías’ works have been published in 50 languages – most recently The Infatuations and Thus Bad Begins have received outstanding reviews in this country. The novels borrow features both from the thriller genre and from poetry, with philosophical strength and wisdom in the investigation of the modern human condition. Javier Marías‘ appearances on the public stage are as exceptional as the quality of his books.
Italian Domenico Starnone (b. 1943) became world famous in the autumn of 2016 when a newspaper pointed out the many similarities between Starnone and the literary world star Elena Ferrante, who writes her novels under a pseudonym. In his native Italy Starnone has been known for many years as an important writer who writes in the postmodern style from Italo Calvino. Two of his novels will appear in Danish Trick and Ties. The latter is in addition a literary ‘reply’ to Ferrante’s novel The Days of Abandonment from 2003, the story of a man who leaves his wife and children for a younger woman, told from three different points of view. Although the mysteries surrounding the author endure, the reviewers agree that with this he has written one of his best novels.
Also appearing at the festival is Canadian Anne Carson (b. 1950), among other things a classicist and translator who in 2012 enraptured audiences when she visited Louisiana Literature for the first time. Carson mixes Greek tradition and formal curiosity in highly original works. In August one of these is appearing in Danish, Float, a collection of booklets that can be read in random order and which make up an unusual book. “If prose is a house, poetry is a man on fire running quite fast through it,” Carson has stated in her definition of what poetry is.
Many readers were enchanted by the novel Nothing Holds Back the Night by Delphine de Vigan(b. 1966), which appeared in France in 2011 and sold over a million copies. In it the author describes in ‘autofictional’ style how she found her mother, who had committed suicide, and how amidst her grief she set herself the task of writing her story. At the festival Delphine de Vigan will present her new novel, Loyalties, about the children of a divorce and about a family life that is falling apart. The book has been described as a powerful novel about the hidden laws that define our close relations with the world.
In 1986, when Hungarian Péter Nádas (b. 1942) published his major novel A Book of Memories I+II, the American writer and literary critic Susan Sontag called the work “the greatest novel written in our time”. At Louisiana Péter Nádas will present his giant novel Parallel Stories – which he has spent more than 20 years writing – by the time of the festival all three volumes will have appeared in Danish. The novel is a virtuoso combination of 19th-century realism and a nouveau roman experiment. In the book Nádas gives an account of human destinies which in sophisticated ways reflect the history of Europe in the 20th century from the interwar years up to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
The Moroccan writer Tahar Ben Jelloun (b. 1944) is considered one of the most important living voices in the Arab world with a long succession of prizewinning literary works behind him. Although his first language is Arabic, Tahar Ben Jelloun writes his books in French, having lived in Paris since the start of the 70s. Several of his works have been written to deal artistically with the dichotomy between two cultures he has experienced. He is now appearing in Danish with the novel The Happy Marriage, about a man who falls in love with his black mistress, dealing with among other themes the inherent racism between Arabs and black Africans. Tahar Ben Jelloun is also known as a committed intellectual who engages in public debate about migration and developments in the Arab world.
The German-Austrian star author Daniel Kehlmann (b. 1975), known for among other things the novel Measuring the World (2005), which sold 1.5 million copies, will appear at the festival with his new novel Tyll. Philosophical and virtuosically, the novel questions our view of the world and the relationship between faith and knowledge. The novel is played out with multiperspectival narrative devices in a panorama of Europe during the Thirty Years’ War with the life of the trickster Till Eulenspiegel as its focus. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has called Tyll “Kehlmann’s best novel so far”, which says a good deal, since Measuring the World is considered one of the most successful German novels of the present day.
Irish Sally Rooney (b. 1991) is the new star that many people in the English-speaking world are talking about. Her debut novel Conversations with Friends from 2016, which has just been published in Danish, is a shrewd, witty novel about friendship, sex, jealousy, politics, gender and love told with great stylistic assurance, warmth and emotional insight. It is an intelligent menage à trois drama about two girlfriends, Frances and Bobbi, who are ex-lovers and who meet an older couple. Admiring reviewers agree that there is an unusual talent here who has already found her own quite inimitable voice in her first book.
Hiromi Itô (b. 1965) is one of the major living poets in Japan and at the same time the strongest representative of the feminist wave of the 1970s in Japanese literature, when female writers wrote for the first time about body, gender and sexuality in a way that had hitherto been unheard-of. Running through Hiromi Itô’s work is a wild voice that speaks with equal openness about women’s sexuality, erotic longings, pregnancy and for example also the fantasy of killing one’s newborn child, as we can read in one of her most famous poems. It is not for nothing that Itô is called a poetic shaman, for she has access to many voices in her rich poetic register. The poetry collection Wild Grass on a Riverbank (2005) is the first work by the author translated into Danish. It will be published in the days up to the festival. On stage Itô is the embodiment of her voices, and she has no qualms about giving full life to her poems in her readings.
From Mexico City comes Guadalupe Nettel (b. 1973), whose idiosyncratic prose has been characterized as “an alien sun shining down on our world”. Nettel has lived in various parts of the world, including with the militaristic Zapatista movement, where she helped to build a library in the jungle. Her first novel, which will appear in Danish in August, The Body where I was Born, features a narrator who is a cockroach, at least according to her mother. Nettel herself has called her prizewinning novel “an autobiographical book of memories”. The main character in the novel, who was born with a birthmark in her eye, which limits her vision, isolates herself reading among other things Kafka’s Metamorphosis, which Nettel herself read at the early age of 8-9.
Japanese Yoko Tawada (b. 1960) has lived in Berlin for more than 35 years, and at the festival will present her brilliant novel entitled Memoirs of a Polar Bear, about the polar bear Knut from the Berlin Zoo which in the real world became the whole world’s favourite bear in 2007 – and which is here one of three main characters – alongside Knut’s grandmother, a Russian polar bear that appears in the circus, and his mother, who is also a circus performer, but whose story is told by his trainer. Boundaries are crossed in this original ‘memoir’, which plays with the voices of fiction so we have no doubt that it is the imaginative power of literature that is being celebrated.
Born in Lagos, but living in Brooklyn, Teju Cole (b. 1975) recently wrote the essay collection Known and Strange Things, where he writes penetratingly about authors like W.G. Sebald, V.S. Naipaul, Tomas Tranströmer and Wole Soyinka, but also for example about the image-makers Wangechi Mutu and Krzysztof Kieslowski. Most recently the critically acclaimed Blind Spot has been published, a book that mixes Cole’s own photos and texts – about all the things we overlook when we think we have seen it all. The writer, who has a monthly column in the New York Times Magazine, demonstrates here how dazzling an observer he is both of his time and of the things he captures with his camera. The book also has a connection to his memorable visit to Louisiana Literature in 2014, since one of the pictures was taken at the Glyptoteket in Copenhagen.
Just a year after The Economist named Bulgaria as “the dreariest place in the world” in 2010, Georgi Gospodinov published his second novel, the masterpiece The Physics of Sorrow, which came out in Danish last year. In Bulgaria it was sold out on its publication date, named Book of the Year, and was later translated into 23 languages. The Physics of Sorrow is an odyssey through the labyrinths of history and not least the mind. In connection with the prizewinning novel Neue Zürcher Zeitung wrote: “Georgi Gospodinov saves both the world and literature”. This spring Natural Novel has been re-issued in Danish, on the surface a book about a divorce, whose fragmented narrative style reflects the narrator’s refusal to accept the premises of the divorce.
“A mesmerizing writer who demands to be read. Like Bolaño she is interested in matters of life and death, and her fiction hits with the force of a freight train”, the American writer Dave Eggers has said of Argentinian Mariana Enriquez (b. 1973). Her powerful short stories, collected in Things we Lost in the Fire, garnered effusive reviews when the book was published here in the autumn. Enriquez’ dark stories, which have also appeared for example in The New Yorker, use the fantastical and macabre, but also humour, as recurring elements and deal with current and socially critical issues such as inequality, feminism, violence and abuse in post-dictatorial Argentina. At the same time Enriquez is part of a new wave of literature from Latin America which also includes Samanta Schweblin and Valeria Luiselli, who could both be seen at last year’s festival, and Guadalupe Nettel of this year’s festival.
From Norway comes the prizewinning poet, dramatist, short story writer and novelist Niels Fredrik Dahl
(b. 1957), whose new novel Mother by Night is about a writer’s attempt to get to know his mother through her diary, which she gave him before she died and which he only opened many years later. The book is a portrait of a woman and a self-portrait in the same work, borne up by profound personal pain – alcohol abuse, writer’s block and infidelity. Perhaps the author’s best book, write several reviewers in Norway, who also mentioned it among the best Norwegian books from last year.
Another highly acclaimed novel which was mentioned as one of the best publications in Norway last year was written by Jan Kjærstad (b. 1953), whom many people here in Denmark got to know through his novel trilogy about Jonas Wergeland from the 1990s. The new novel is called Berge. Without a word about Utøya – the Norwegian national tragedy – the novel is about a terrorist action that affects a family at the top of the Norwegian Labour Party. At the same time the novel is an analysis of what happened to Norway on the day the tragedy took place. Through a weft of styles and voices Kjærstad delves into Norway’s trauma where no writer so far has dared to tread.
Swiss Christian Kracht is one of the innovative provocateurs of German-speaking literature whose ironic and grotesque novels skewer Western civilization in general and Germany in particular. Imperium (2012) aroused a great deal of debate in the German-speaking world, where a number of colleagues, including Elfriede Jelinek and Daniel Kehlmann, defended Kracht against accusations of antisemitism. The Dead is the title of Kracht’s latest novel which has been praised by the German reviewers. The novel takes us to Berlin in the hectic 1930s, where the new film culture was burgeoning, but also to Japan, where American cultural imperialism has left its strong mark.
No fewer than three times, Johannes Anyuru has been nominated for Sweden’s finest literary honour, the August Prize, and for the novel They will Drown in the Tears of their Mothers from 2017, he at last won the prize. The author began work on the book after the terror attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo; it is a dystopian and poetic futuristic scenario which begins with an assassination carried out by three young people who swear allegiance to Islamic State. A thought-provoking portrait of a Gothenburg of the future where Muslims must sign a citizens’ contract in order not to be called enemies of Sweden.
The New Yorker’s leading literary reviewer, James Wood, who is behind the success of Norwegian literature in the USA in recent years, was full of superlatives when he presented Gunnhild Øyehaug (b. 1975), whom he compared with no less a figure than Lydia Davis. According to Wood, Øyehaug writes playful, often witty and succinct, but also surrealistic and profoundly intellectual works; at the same time she switches with ease between the theoretical and commitment to the human. Last year Undis Brekke appeared in Danish, and in August comes Øyehaug’s debut, Knots, which is also the one that has been translated into English.
Several authors will be added to this programme – including some of this year’s best Danish writers, as well as performance art, music and audio walks which are continuously central to the festival.
A four-day tightly packed programme makes it almost impossible to include everything, but luckily the festival has a long 'afterlife' on Louisiana Channel where many of the authors, who have been guests at Louisiana Literature, are featured - for instance Zadie Smith, Tomas Espedal, Patti Smith, Richard Ford, Nicole Krauss and Henning Mankell - and many more...
NEWS & UPDATES
LOUISIANA LITERATURE HIGHLIGHTS
from previous years.
Louisiana and literature
Literature has always had a place at Louisiana. Through the years the museum has welcomed authors and hosted literary events, just as it has made room for music and architecture. Previously, Nordic poetry days were held and in the 1980s Louisiana gave Eastern European dissident authors a place to speak freely. It was also at Louisiana that Salman Rushdie appeared in public in 1992 - for the first time since the fatwa calling for his assassination was issued.
Louisiana’s literature festival saw the light of day in August 2010 and was a resounding success. Since then, it has become an annual event bringing together over 40 authors from Denmark and abroad and thousands of festival goers during the four-day festival.
Thus Louisiana Literature upholds a strong tradition. The event keeps the museum engaged in the world of literature, and at the same time the festival emphasizes great literature and its necessity.
C. L. DAVIDS FOUNDATION AND COLLECTION supports Louisiana Literature