Last weekend, I traveled to Oslo, Norway for Krimfestivalen 2017! This crime fiction festival takes place over 3 days, and includes a whole variety of panels and activities with authors from Scandinavia and around the world. I absolutely loved my time in Oslo—by the end of the weekend I was ready to pack up and move to Norway permanently!
Here you'll find a day-by-day recap of my time in Oslo, including photos and top book recommendations that I learned about this weekend. Happy reading!
First things first—here are the top books that caught my eye this weekend, either from festival panels, speaking with authors, or just exploring Oslo's bookstores. I haven't had a chance to read these yet, but fully intend to as soon as possible!
Festival Journal: Krimfestivalen 2017
Day 1: Thursday, March 9th
- Festival arrival
- Panel featuring Peter Swanson & John Hart
- Dinner & drinks with favorite authors
I arrived to Oslo in the afternoon of festival Day 1. After reuniting with friends from Iceland Noir this November and dropping my bags off, I headed into Oslo to watch my first festival panels! My major achievement of the day? Taking public transportation in Norway all by myself and not getting lost! (Seriously, I was proud of myself for this.)
The first panel I watched included authors Peter Swanson and John Hart. I was beyond excited to hear from Peter Swanson in particular—I recently read and loved his most recent US release, HER EVERY FEAR. Peter was at the panel to discuss his first thriller, THE GIRL WITH A CLOCK FOR A HEART, which is now being released in Norwegian! I was particularly interested to learn that this book actually began as a short story, not a novel. Peter wrote it as a story that was just for himself—he wanted to explore writing a story that had a hard-boiled crime edge, and that featured a femme fatale character, but based in a college setting. He actually published this short story online first, and then an agent sought him out and ask if he would consider turning it into a full-length novel. He acknowledged that this is such an unusual route to publication! Peter was totally personable and interesting to listen to—his panel appearance definitely made me eager to read his earlier books.
After this panel, I was fortunate enough to get to tag along to a dinner with the festival's sponsors and a bunch of authors! I was seated with some of my most favorite people: Yrsa Sigurdardottir (Iceland's "Queen of Crime") and Norwegian crime writer Thomas Enger. We had such a great time catching up!
I also got to meet Jorn Lier Horst, whose William Wisting series is hugely popular in Norway. Jorn actually remembered me from when I reviewed his book CLOSED FOR WINTER this December, which completely made my day! After dinner, we went out to drinks and had so much fun. We took the below photo for Sara Blaedel - these are our "why aren't you here, Sara?!" faces!
After drinks, we went back to the festival venue for a party with all the festival authors. It was so much fun!! I'm always amazed by how easy it is to talk to all these authors—I usually feel a little star struck at first, because they're just so talented, but they're also the nicest bunch of people I've ever met. At the party, I spent quite a while talking with Torkil Damhaug - I've been very curious about his books, so I was really excited to meet with him!! Hopefully I'll have the chance to review his books for you soon.
Side note: you know you're hanging out with the right people when their party decorations include a fake dead body.
After that party, it was time for me to pass out. Honestly, I'm surprised I made it through such a long day with my jet lag - but it was just so fun!
Day 2: Friday, March 10th
- Exploring the area near the festival
- Icelandic Crime Fiction panel
- Bookstore event with Joseph Knox
- Juan Pablo Escobar event
On Friday morning, I spent some time exploring the area around my hotel before heading to the festival. Oslo is just so beautiful, I could've spent days and days just walking around! After my little mini-exploration, I met up with Yrsa and some of her friends and family for lunch. (Again, crime authors are just the best people!) After lunch, it was time for me to head back to the festival to listen to panels.
I had two favorite panels from Friday: a panel on Icelandic Crime Fiction, and a bookstore event featuring Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Joseph Knox, and Stefan Ahnhem.
The Icelandic Crime Fiction panel was totally fascinating. As you know, Icelandic crime fiction has become a favorite for me, and I loved listening to Yrsa Sigurdardottir and Arni Thorainsson discuss their work. One of my favorite moments came when Yrsa discussed the variety found within her books. Yrsa explained that she loves to write all different kinds of crime fiction, because she tends to get bored if she writes the same kind of book over and over. Yrsa feels that she must always be genuinely interested in the topic she's writing about, and sometimes that means she has to step outside the box and try new things. This is something I've personally admired about Yrsa's work: how her stories range from crime solving to more horror with an occasional supernatural touch. As a reader, I love this variety! Yrsa also expressed something that I totally, completely agree with: that one of the best things about crime fiction as a genre is just how much variety exists within it.
Later in the afternoon, I walked over to a local bookstore for an event featuring a few fantastic authors: Yrsa, Joseph Knox, and Stefan Ahnhem. I was thrilled to hear from Joseph Knox, whose debut crime novel SIRENS has already taken the U.K. by storm, and has been acquired by Crown for US publication. I've heard nothing but amazing things about SIRENS, and Joseph's discussion of it piqued my interest even more. I will definitely be considering this a must-read when it releases in the US (likely in early 2018).
SIRENS explores the drug culture of Manchester, England - an environment that Joseph had firsthand experience in, as he worked in bars there. He described Manchester as "tough but beautiful". Joseph explained that while writing this book, he wanted to take it as far beyond a plot-based crime novel as he could. He wanted to deal with "grand ideas" - and the one that works best with the Noir genre is tragedy. What could be more tragic than wasted potential?
Joseph's talk completely sold me on SIRENS. I can't wait to read it! I'll be holding out for the US release rather than buying it on BookDepository - 2018 hurry up!
After this bookstore event, I took some time to grab coffee and unwind. Then it was time for dinner, and then another event: this one was an "in conversation" event in Oslo Nye Centralteater featuring none other than Juan Pablo Escobar, son of Pablo Escobar, the notorious drug kingpin whose life the Netflix show "Narcos" is based on. Juan Pablo Escobar discussed his book MY FATHER, the story of his father's life. This talk was incredibly moving and compelling—Juan Pablo Escobar told his story with great sensitivity, and I was so impressed by his insight into his father's life and legacy.
After this talk, it was time for another party! This party came in the form of a crime fiction quiz - even though the quiz was in Norwegian, my teammates were kind enough to help translate the questions for me! It was so much fun. After the quiz, it was time to call it a night!
Day 3: Saturday, March 11th
- Bookstore exploring!
- Drinks with Peter Swanson
- Crime Concert featuring Thomas Enger
Saturday morning was all about exploring Oslo for me! I woke up (relatively) early, grabbed a coffee, and set out to tour some Oslo bookstores.
My favorite bookstore that I visited on my trip was El Dorado - I owe a thank-you to the friend on Instagram who recommended it to me! Click on the photos below to enlarge.
This store is really so cool: it's an adapted theater, and includes multiple floors of books and a fantastic section of crime fiction in English, which of course I loved! While there, I purchased THE CAVEMAN by Jorn Lier Horst, which I intend to read very soon.
I also visited Tanum on Karl Johans gate - I had so much fun finding books from some of my favorite Orenda Books authors all the way in Norway!
Saturday evening, I went to drinks with Peter Swanson! We had drinks on the rooftop bar of the Grand Hotel, which is just a stunning building with a truly fantastic view.
I went planning to talk to Peter about his books, which we did, but we also ended up having a blast discussing New England, the Patriots, books we've recently read and loved, and all different kinds of things. I also learned a bit from Peter about projects he has coming up! It was such a great time, and I'm so appreciative of Peter taking the time to meet with me.
After drinks with Peter, I went to meet up with some friends for a bit! Then it was back to the festival for an absolute highlight of the trip: a Crime Concert featuring performances by Thomas Enger and Øystein Wiik.
I've been looking forward to this concert for quite a while now—you guys know how much I love Thomas Enger's Henning Juul series, and it was truly such a cool thing to get to listen to his music, too. He's an incredibly talented pianist - if you have a moment, check out our interview (linked below) and listen to the song he performed at the concert. My reaction to this concert on Twitter pretty much sums it up...
I had the chance to interview Thomas about his music the next day—find that interview linked here. Thank you to Thomas for taking the time to chat with me!
Post-concert, there was one last party - it was yet again another great night!
Day 4: Sunday, March 12th
- Jo Nesbø walking tour
- Interview with Thomas Enger
With the festival over, Sunday was my day for all things Harry Hole! I spent my afternoon going on an unofficial walking tour of all the major locations in the Harry Hole series. You guys know how obsessed I am with Jo Nesbø's Harry Hole series, and it was a dream come true to get to walk in Harry's footsteps around the city. I visited all the major locations from this series—I've written a separate blog post detailing this tour (with photos!!), which you can find here!
Sunday afternoon, I met with Thomas Enger for an interview about his music and the song he performed at the concert on Saturday! Read that interview here. It was totally fascinating getting to know another side of one of my favorite authors, and Thomas is always so much fun to talk to! The rest of my evening was spent with friends, and then packing up to go back to the US.
Day 5: Monday, March 13th
- Farewell, Oslo!
Time to head back to the US. I woke up early, went for a little walk to say goodbye to Oslo, and grabbed a coffee. Then it was off to the airport! I was so sad to leave—I really wish I could've stayed longer. One little observation from my travel day: Oslo's airport seriously has such excellent bookstores! Thankfully I had time to explore them before getting on my plane.
I absolutely loved my time in Oslo. Krimfestivalen was such a fun adventure, and most of all it was so much fun to be reunited with friends I made in Iceland Noir! I'm so fortunate to have had this chance to travel to Norway. I owe so many thanks to Yrsa Sigurdardottir, her husband Oli, my friends Hildur, Stacy, and Paul, Thomas Enger, and Peter Swanson (among many others!) for making my trip such an excellent one. Until we meet again - skål!