Official visit to the UK: Literature Event
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning, everyone
The American writer James Salter was interviewed by The Paris Review a year before he passed away. He was asked what makes writing so necessary:
“Because all this is going to vanish. The only thing left will be the prose and poems, the books, what is written down. Man was very fortunate to have invented the book. Without it the past would completely vanish, and we would be left with nothing, we would be naked on earth.”
For Salter, this was the purpose of writing.
For me, this is the purpose of reading. And I am deeply grateful to writers for their gifts to all of us.
Literature connects us to the past and to the future. Across continents and different ways of life. Literature connects us to each other. And to ourselves.
I am a passionate reader. Whenever I read a good book, I want to share it with my family and my friends – both at home and abroad. But literature needs help to travel across borders. Thanks to many of you present here - translators, publishers, reviewers, booksellers, librarians, promoters and festival organisers – it can do just that.
The UK is a literary superpower. Shakespeare, Dickens and Virginia Woolf have inspired readers and other writers through changing times. Contemporary literary stars like Deborah Levy, Bernardine Evaristo, Kazuo Ishiguro and Douglas Stuart build on your profound literary legacy.
British literature continues to touch people all across the world.
In Norway, we are currently living in a golden age of literature – and I am proud to be joined here today by some of Norway’s finest writers:
Siri Helle, Lars Mytting and Karl Ove Knausgård. In very different ways, they convey something typically Norwegian and universal at the same time. I am very much looking forward to their conversation.
Now, I want to thank all of you here. Your efforts, along every stage of the process, are vital pieces in the fine and complex tapestry of reading. Thanks to your hard work, literature can be conveyed to a larger audience, to new and experienced readers alike.
I would particularly like to pay tribute to the independent bookshops like yours, Mr. Bottomley, who serve quality literature to people of all ages with dedication and purpose.
I hope this event will reinforce the already strong ties between the UK and Norway – and invite even more readers into our shared reading room.