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Literary train tour through Germany

Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess’s literary train has embarked on its first international tour. Today the train rolled out from a platform in Berlin en route to the Frankfurt Book Fair.  


The Crown Prince and Crown Princess are visiting Germany to shine a light on Norwegian literature, by taking part in a variety of events ahead of the big Frankfurt Book Fair. Norway is this year’s Guest of Honour at the book fair and the project is the largest cultural promotion effort Norway has ever carried out abroad.

Children’s books were the theme of the literary train tour between Berlin and Cologne. Photo: Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix

Children from two schools in Berlin travelled with the Crown Prince and Crown Princess on the train this morning as far as Hannover. The pupils are all avid readers and were looking forward to talking about books with the Crown Prince and Crown Princess.

“I love discussing books with others, and especially young people,” the Crown Princess said today on the platform. “Why do you like this book or that author in particular?”

Many children and young people have shared their favourite books with the Crown Princess on previous literary train tours, and today’s journey was no exception.

The Crown Princess and illustrator Svein Nyhus in conversation with children on the train. Photo: Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix

On the train, the young readers met the Norwegian children’s book authors Jostein Gaarder and Maria Parr, who read aloud from their books. The youngsters also got to try their hand at book illustration under the guidance of Svein Nyhus and Anna Fiske, who are experts in the field. 

Big questions

In the book Questions Asked, which has been translated into German, Jostein Gaarder poses a number of intriguing philosophical questions to his young readers. It was this book Gaarder read from on the train today, engaging the children, the Crown Prince and the Crown Princess in many interesting discussions. One of the pupils’ favourite questions was “What is time?”

Jostein Gaarder poses a number of intriguing philosophical questions to his readers. Photo: Heiko Junge, NTB scanpix

Literary meeting in Cologne

After the 9- and 10-year-olds disembarked at the station in Hannover, the literary train tour continued toward Cologne, where a literary meeting was scheduled with the Norwegian authors Maja Lunde and Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson at the Ludwig bookshop.

Maja Lunde’s book The History of Bees deals with the ramifications of the bee death. It was sold to publishers in more than 30 countries and became a bestseller in Germany. Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson is a biologist who has won awards for her book Extraordinary Insects, about the weird, useful and fascinating little creatures we cannot live without. This afternoon the two will meet up for a conversation on nature and climate in literature.

The German literary train tour is organised in collaboration with Deutsche Bahn. Photo: Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix

A number of different authors will be boarding the literary train in Cologne to take part in the tour as it continues towards Frankfurt, where the book fair opens tomorrow.


Frankfurt Book Fair

The Frankfurt Book Fair is the largest and most important of its kind in the world. It takes place during a week in October. The first three days are devoted to the publishing business. Then the doors are opened to the public. The German book market is the second largest in the world.

Book and media people from 125 countries meet here to buy and sell rights. The fair draws some 300 000 visitors a year. About 10 000 journalists from around the world cover the event.

Norway is the fair’s Guest of Honour for 2019 – the result of a major collective effort by the Norwegian book industry. Norwegian Literature Abroad (NORLA) has taken the leadership role. Among the main goals is to feature new literary voices.

The Guest of Honour nation receives a great deal of attention across Germany. In Frankfurt, the Guest of Honour is spotlighted at many events throughout the autumn within all fields of art and culture.

Other Nordic countries honoured in this way found the experience to be highly positive. Finland was Guest of Honour at the fair in 2014 and Iceland in 2011.



The Crown Princess and literature

The Crown Princess loves to read and is passionate about books. She wants to share her reading pleasure and spread great literature, and she is convinced that there is a book for everyone.

Crown Princess Mette-Marit participates regularly in a wide variety literary events – from reading time for children in the Palace Park, to literature festivals and library visits. The Norwegian Library Association is one of the organisations under her patronage. The Crown Princess also tries to arrange meetings about Norwegian literature during official visits to other countries.

In 2017, the Crown Princess took on the role of ambassador for Norwegian literature abroad. 

Among the Crown Princess’s literary activities, however, there is one that stands out in particular: her literary train tour. In recent years the Crown Princess has embarked on a literary train tour each spring, with events at libraries and houses of literature along the way.

The Crown Princess at home at Skaugum preparing for the literary train tour 2018. Photo: Christian Lagaard, The Royal Court

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