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Opened the Frankfurt Book Fair

With 2,000 people in the hall, 7,500 exhibitors in position and attendance expected to reach 300,000, it was finally time for Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess to open the massive Frankfurt Book Fair.


From the stage, Crown Princess Mette-Marit read “It Is That Dream”, a poem by Olav H. Hauge that has been named the greatest Norwegian poem ever. Its opening line inspired Norway’s slogan as this year’s Guest of Honour at the book fair: The Dream We Carry, or Der Traum in uns as it is phrased in German. 

The Crown Princess reading Olav H. Hauge’s poem “It Is That Dream”. Photo: Frank Rumpenhorst / dpa / AFP / NTB scanpix

It Is That Dream

It is the dream we carry
that something wonderful will happen,
that it must happen –
that time will open,
that our hearts may open,
that doors shall open,
and the mountain shall open
that springs will gush forth –
that our dream will open,
and that one morning we’ll glide
into a cove we didn’t know.

– (Translated by Matt Bagguley)

Prime Minister Erna Solberg also took part in the grand opening. She emphasised how literature can provide insight into other people’s lives and experiences, including how they have perceived our own culture.
“When I read books,” the Prime Minister said, “it’s not because I want to read about people like me. It’s to learn about others. And to learn about how others experience their meetings with my culture. There are many things I will never experience first-hand. Literature can make up for this.”

Karl Ove Knausgård at the podium during the opening of the international Frankfurt Book Fair. Photo: Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix

The German audience was also treated to compelling insights from the Norwegian authors Erika Fatland and Karl Ove Knausgård. Elle Márjá Eira concluded the opening ceremony in impressive musical style with a Sami joik

Norway’s own pavilion

After the formal opening of the book fair, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess moved to the Norwegian Guest of Honour Pavilion, where Norwegian Minister of Culture Trine Skei Grande had the job of opening the Norwegian segment of the fair.

Minister of Culture Trine Skei Grande gives her opening remarks in the Norwegian Pavilion. Photo: Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix

This is where the public, literary agents and publishers will be able to immerse themselves in books by hundreds of Norwegian authors. More than 500 Norwegian books have been translated into German this year, which is a new record.

Foremost meeting place

The Frankfurt Book Fair is considered the largest book fair in the world. Its roots go all the way back to 1478, when the first fair was held – not long after Gutenberg invented the art of printing. 

Artists performing at the opening of the Norwegian Pavilion. Photo: Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix

Today, the fair comprises some 4 000 different events and is covered by 10 000 journalists. It will last until Sunday, 20 October, and is expected to draw more than 300 000 visitors. Fairgoers will find exhibitors from more than 100 countries, but the focus this year is on Norwegian literature.



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 work 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. Norway was Guest of Honour at the book fair, and Crown Princess Mette-Marit opened the fair.

In 2024 she will open the Norwegian Pavilion at the international book fair in Kairo.

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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