Samuel Bjørk in Athens 2018 World Book Capital!
Samuel Bjørk, the renowned Norwegian Nordic noir author, will be in Athens is February, invited by Athens 2018 World Book Capital, City of Athens. On Wednesday, 6th of February 2019 at 19.00, Samuel Bjørk is giving a lecture at Megaron Moussikis (Vass. Sofias & Kokkali) in collaboration with ‘Athens 2018 – World Book Capital’ of the City of Athens, Megaron Plus and the Dioptra Publishing House. The author talks to journalist Marina Tsiklitira about Life through Norwegian crime novels – in English, with simultaneous translation.
Samuel Bjørk is the pen name of Norwegian novelist, playwright and singer/songwriter Frode Sander Øien. He wrote his first stageplay at the age of twenty-one and then went on to write two highly acclaimed literary novels, Pepsi Love (2001) and Speed for Breakfast (2009). The self-taught artist has also released six albums, written five plays, showed contemporary art pieces in various galleries and translated Shakespeare.
When the first installment in the Mia and Munch Series, I’m Traveling Alone, was published in Norway in 2013, it has gained critical acclaim and captivated readers all over the world and was nominated for the Norwegian Booksellers’ Award. It sold to 30 countries and became an instant international bestseller. The second book in the series, The Owl Always Hunts at Night, was published in 2015 was in the top of bestseller lists all over the world and his third book, The Boy in The Headlights, was published in September 2018. They are all translated and published in Greece by Dioptra Publishing House.
Before arriving to Athens, Samuel Bjørk had a conversation with Athens 2018 World Book Capital and Anna Routsi about Nordic Noir, the art of writing and the characters of his books, and… Athens, what else?!
In Athens 2018 World Book Capital we have dedicated a whole section to the Nordic Noir. What is your opinion of it? Is it a ‘trend’? A phenomenon? Does it reflect to some extent the society or the mentality in Nordic countries?
S.B. That is a big and interesting question. I belong to it so I can’t say I don’t like the label, but I think some books are better than others. I like the stories that go deeper into the characters than the clean police detective books. Having said that, I think it has substance, and will be here for a while. It is not just something that will go away like a short trend. I’m not sure if Nordic noir reflects society, I think it is more a genre that show our long literary tradition of deeper psychological books.
Do you think that climate and urban environment play a significant role in the development of this literary genre?
S.B. Climate is one thing that of course is a part of it, it is very cold and dark here, and that reflects upon our personalities. Loneliness, depression and from that; existentialism, is a great part of our lives. Urban environment I’m not so sure, our cities are very small, and we always feel minor to other countries’ big cities.
What kind of books are you currently reading?
S.B. I am reading Philip K. Dick, «The Man in the big castle», Audur Ólafsdóttir, «Scars» who won the Nordic literary award this year, and the fifth book in the Millennium-series. I just love Lisbeth Salander, even though it is of course not the same, now that Stieg Larsson is gone.
You are involved to many more kinds of art, such as music or theatre. Does this experience and these skills reflect somehow to the way you are writing?
S.B. Yes absolutely! I am a very artistic and musical person, and this reflects tempo and rhythm in my books. I think it is really great to be a versatile individual, this makes me a much better writer.
What do you get inspired from and how are your characters being born and developed? Are you ever afraid of thrillers, including yours?!
S.B. I get inspired by real people and real emotions, but my characters are pure fiction, I never base them on anyone. I have always been like this, characters just pop into my head, then I improvise some chapters, like an audition, and if they work out on paper, they can be in the book. No, I don’t get afraid of thrillers, I work so much with books that it is hard to get really involved. I usually only see technique, and how the author tries to construct things. But sometime I get scared of my own ideas. When I came up with the plot of the first book, I had to get up from bed and turn on all the lights in my apartment.
Why do you focus at children and young people in your stories?
S.B. Childhood and adolescence makes us who we are. I wanted to have a focus on this in my first three books. What happens when parents don’t take care of their children? Which consequences will it get for the child and society? I like to have a social context in my books, not just the plot and the action.
You’ve been in Athens before, how do you feel coming here again at the occasion of Athens being UNESCO’s World Book Capital?
S.B. I love being in Athens, I almost feel at home there now. My publisher is just great, and the readers have just been amazing and wonderful. I get often get messages on Facebook from happy Greek readers who tell me to write more. Being invited as a representative when Athens is Unesco’s World Book Capital is a great honor. I am really looking forward to my trip, and seeing everyone again, and maybe I can even get to see the sun for a few days!..
With admission tickets (Distribution begins at 17:30)