The secret manuscripts of the Library of the Future

This same committee works every year to select the authors called upon to contribute. We look for those who give voice to something that is intrinsically present, which is why we never plan in advance, emphasizes Katie Paterson. We’re issuing one invitation at a time, because we don’t know what the next year will bring.

The writer who says he is ready to collaborate then embarks on a unique process, the smallest details of which he must keep secret – with the exception of the title, the only element intended to be made public. In the language of his choice, which will not be translated, he can write a word like a long novel.

Knowing what these books contain would mean breaking the pact. We don’t know what the authors wrote because it simply wasn’t written for us. »

A quote from Katie Paterson, artist

War and Peace written in a very small font, says Katie Paterson. And luckily it worked!”,”text”:”As we wanted to ensure that all the manuscripts could fit into the glass compartments of the silent room [de la bibliothèque d’Oslo], we tested a version of War and Peace written in a very small font, says Katie Paterson. And luckily, it worked!”}}”>As we wanted to ensure that all the manuscripts could fit into the glass compartments of the quiet room [de la bibliothèque d’Oslo]we tested a version of War and peace written in a very small font, says Katie Paterson. And luckily, it worked!

Liberating act

Ten years after Margaret Atwood wanted to add her stone to the building – a response so quick that we could hardly believe it! – Katie Paterson and Anne Beate Hovind continue to marvel each time an author accepts their invitation.

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Canadian author Margaret Atwood was the first contributor to Oslo’s Library of the Future. Photo: Kristin von Hirsch/Katie Paterson

Like the Norwegian Karl Ove Knausgaard, for whom the text is like a small ship sent to the future, the Canadian author sees writing as a time capsule; [elle] who writes the words and the reader who receives them, always separated by time.

How strange to think of my own voice – silent for a long time – suddenly waking up, after 100 years. »

A quote from Margaret Atwood, author

For Turkish writer Elif Shafak, who submitted the library’s fourth manuscript, being read in the future is a bit like writing a letter that you leave at the river. You don’t know where it will go or who will read it, she writes. You just rely on the passage of time.

Ocean Vuong, David Mitchell, Sjón, Han Kang, Tsitsi Dangarembga and Judith Schalansky are among the authors who have also responded to the call since 2014.

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The manuscript submitted by the Icelandic author Sjón, who signed the third text to join the Library of the Future. Photo: Kristin von Hirsch/Katie Paterson

Valeria Luiselli, author of The story of my teeth, Lost Children Archives And Tell me the ending, will shortly submit his manuscript, the last to be added to the small piece of Deichman Bjørvika. The Mexican writer, who grew up between South Africa, South Korea and India, chose to put aside, for a few months, the book on which she has been working for more than four years in order to devote herself to the writing of this secret manuscript.

Reached in New York a few days before her departure for Oslo, Valeria Luiselli assures that she has not the shadow of a regret. She sees there the most beautiful invitation ever received from [sa] life.

I had no idea how much it would change my relationship to writing, but also my relationship to the transience of life and the fragility of time. »

A quote from Valeria Luiselli, author

The writer is careful not to say too much about her text, for fear of breaking the magic. Freed from criticism, she allowed herself to play more with form and indulge in raw emotion. On the other end of the line, she thinks out loud to choose the right word: I think I managed to write a more courageous text, perhaps?

There’s something liberating about writing without having to worry about audience reception, the author explains. But after typing the last line, it was difficult to get rid of itshe says.

Print the paper version, erase all traces of it from my computer, and that’s it, it’s over. I had never had to let go of a work in which I had invested so much energy, heart and soul. It’s a process that has taught me a lot.

To this unprecedented freedom, however, is added an element of responsibility, notes Valeria Luiselli, conscious throughout the writing that she was creating a work of meaning for future generations.

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NEXT Valady. Jean Couet-Guichot and Gaya Wisniewski, two artists in residence within the region