“There is still hope for literature” | Maria Turtschaninoff

“There is still hope for literature” | Maria Turtschaninoff

After five days in Aarhus, meeting readers and other writers, my overwhelming feeling is one of relief.

There is still hope for literature.

Hay Festival Aarhus renewed and refreshed my faith in the power and resilience of literature. There were so many of us celebrating children’s books in a library which felt not like a shrine to books but like a vibrant, buzzing hub where books, their makers and their readers all could come together. DOKK1 is an outstanding example of what a library truly can be: a meeting place, a place where things happen, a place to come and spend the whole day. I know how much I would have loved exploring that library as a child – I could see that excitement on the faces of the children roaming the library. But I also loved seeing all generations meet: pensioners playing chess, students with their computers, parents with toddlers trying to keep up with their offspring.

And then there were all the people. The people I got to meet, who live and breathe books: The writers, illustrators, academics, organizers, teachers, translators, librarians. And last but not least the readers. These people are the most wonderful people to meet, because we share an interest and a passion. And there are so many of us! We will not be silenced. Talking about books, about writing them, reading them, promoting them – there is nothing better.

Oh yes there is. Actually reading them.

At the same time as Hay Festival Aarhus took place Helsinki hosted its annual book fair. After the fair, the news was spread that the most sold book at the fair was a picture book by the grand old man of Finnish picture books, Mauri Kunnas.

Children’s books matter. They matter a lot.

Maria Turtschaninoff is an award-winning writer from Finland, part of our Aarhus 39 selection of the best emerging writers from across Europe appearing at the inaugural International Children’s Literature Hay Festival Aarhus 2017