literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature

Family Secrets: New Nordic Writing

Part of London Literature Festival

What compels authors to capture family secrets? Linda Boström Knausgård, Vigdis Hjorth and Mazen Maarouf discuss the often thin line between fiction and reality.

Celebrated Swedish author Knausgård’s latest novel Welcome to America received the prestigious Swedish August Prize, and captures a family on the brink of silence.

A young daughter has stopped talking, believing she has killed her father. Her brother barricades himself in his room, while their mother, a successful actress, continues as normal. A scintillating portrait of a sensitive, strong-willed child and a young mind in the throes of trauma, a family on the brink of implosion, and the love that threatens to tear them apart.

One of Norway’s most highly regarded novelists, Hjorth’s newly translated novel Will and Testament was a bestseller and caused a sensation with its frank portrayal of family life.

Following the story of four siblings consumed by a terrible secret, the novel asks to what degree should the horrors of the past be allowed to shake the present?

Palestinian-Icelandic writer Mazen Maarouf’s collection of short stories Jokes for the Gunmen was longlisted for the Booker International Prize, and introduced a blazing new talent.

Often set in war-torn and nameless cities, Maarouf’s stories explore family dynamics when pushed to extremes, as in the title story, when the bond between father and son is tested by the capricious rules of life in a city where bombs rain down indiscriminately.

Linda Boström Knausgård (Sweden) is an author and poet, as well as a producer of documentaries for Swedish radio.

Her first novel, The Helios Disaster, was awarded the Mare Kandre Prize and shortlisted for the Swedish Radio Novel Award 2014.

Vigdis Hjorth was born in 1959. She grew up in Oslo and has lived in Copenhagen, Bergen, Switzerland and France. She is the author of over a dozen novels.

She has won numerous literary awards in Scandinavia, including the Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize in 2016, the Norwegian Critics’ Award in 1985, 2012 and 2016, and the Dobloug Prize in 2018. She was nominated to the Nordic Council Literature Prize in 2016.

Mazen Maarouf was born in Beirut in 1978. He is a Palestinian-Icelandic writer, poet, translator and journalist.

He has published three poetry collections and two short story collections. He currently lives between Reykjavik and Beirut.

Dates & times

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Royal Festival Hall
Level 5 Function Room, Green Side


Booking fee: £3.50 (Members £0.00)


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For ages 16+

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