Regular readers will know that I like to get out and about and go to a few crime literature festivals across the year, and then report back here on some of the panels and some of the words spoken within them. Arguably the biggest is the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, held at the Old Swan hotel. One of my highlights every year at the festival is the New Blood panel, where crime writing legend, Val McDermid, hosts a panel comprising four authors who have published debut novels during the past year (or are about to publish). Val herself picks the panellists – which is a ringing endorsement in itself – and this year, the panel has been announced ahead of time.
Three words I never thought I’d be typing on this blog: Juan Pablo Escobar. In among all the crime fiction authors here in Oslo for Krimfestivalen, there has been one exception to the rule: the son of one of the most notorious criminals the world has ever seen. Juan Pablo is here in Norway to promote his book Pablo Escobar: My Father and he has been a big draw – last night he commanded the stage alongside other big names at the Osly Nye Centralteatret, and today he formed a one-man guest panel. (It should also be noted that the likes of Anne Holt, Arne Dahl and half an hour of crime-based improvisational comedy were also part of the theatre program.) The session was packed. There seems to be a real interest in the man and his life, and you could hardly move – it was easily the most attended session here at Krimfestivalen. But it felt strange to me: the Colombian drug wars of the 1980s and Pablo Escobar’s empire feel like a world away from Norway, and Escobar Jnr was someone I was genuinely not expecting to encounter. No matter, it was fascinating stuff and the crowd was rapt so I’ve combined the two sessions and tried to summarise them both.
Day two of the Krimfestivalen in Oslo saw more English-language panels, which was obviously good for me. Hidden away in a breathless schedule was the appearance of rising star of British crime fiction Joseph Knox, whose debut novel, Sirens, has won heaps of critical acclaim. I was excited so to see Joseph talk, appearing as he did alongside sprightly-dressed Swedish author Stefan Anheim and Iceland’s Yrsa Sigurðardóttir in the Norli bookshop. In fact, one of the things this festival has done very well has been to interact with the local book community, staging events and panels in book shops near to the Cappelen Damm publishing house main venue.
There was another English-language panel here at Krimfestivalen, but the subject was Icelandic crime fiction – that ever-growing outpost of Nordic Noir that has really begun to come into its own recently, thanks to an increase of translated fiction that has made it to our shores (and I’m talking about the UK here), and TV crime dramas like Trapped, The Lava Field and Case. Having visited the island for the first time late last year and fallen in love with the place, it was time for two of Iceland’s best authors to chew the fat in Oslo.
So I’ve made it to Norway for another crime literature festival. Another three-day affair in the warm confines of the Cappellen Damm publishing house, there’s panel after panel featuring Norwegian writers, and writers from other countries, too. A lot of the panels are spoken in Norwegian (it is Oslo, after all) but one that I did manage to see (and understand) was the one featuring Edgar and CWA Steel Dagger-winning author, John Hart.
Apologies for posting this last dispatch from Iceland Noir so late. Pretty much as soon as the festival had finished I found myself with zero time to write it up because I got out of Reykjavik and explored some of the incredible countryside and wilderness the island provides. But these two (final) panels of the festival are worth writing up because a) they covered important subjects and, b) they were hugely entertaining.