Back to Svalbard

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Every author knows that there are many, many literary festivals out there. All the authors I know love being invited to them, but we have to choose the ones we do with care. You can’t do everything (joyous as they often are) or you would never get to write your books/ see your family / etc. Earlier this year, though, an invitation came along and I know I couldn’t turn it down.

It was to the first Longyearbyen literary festival. Longyearbyen is the main town on the island of Spitsbergen, in Svalbard. My book, The One Memory of Flora Banks, is set there, and it’s my favourite place in the world. It feels like a place away from everything else. It’s utterly magical.

This festival was in conjunction with Swedish and Norwegian television, and featured a small number of authors, including the brilliant David Grossman who won the Man Booker prize last year, and Maja Lunde, whose book The History of Bees is a huge bestseller. My partner Craig came with me: we were there from Monday to Friday, and every moment of it was wonderful. Here is a link to the programme, Babel, on Swedish television (my bit is from about 31 minutes), and here, too, are some photos.

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