I had forgotten what the northern spring does to me. Arriving here as spring slowly evolved seems to have triggered the long dormant pollen allergy that used to make this time of year such a torment when I lived here. I went to Lillehammer for the wonderfully well organized Norwegian Litterature Festival, the Sigrid Undset days, then straight to Madrid for the equally impressive Feria del Libro. Both events stunning in scope and organization, but very different. The Lillehammer annual book festival now in its fifteenth year is a focused litterary celebration presenting 180 literary events over four days. The Feria del Libro has been going since 1933 and it is a 6 week massive literary market with over 300 book stores presenting a selection of books in stands across the Parque del Retiro in central Madrid. This year’s Feria had a Scandinavian focus. My perspective may be a little influenced by the fact that in Lillehammer I was a draw card, while in Madrid I was thrown into the crowd of successful Scandinavian crime writers as an oddity. However, the opportunity to meet Spanish readers, my Spanish publisher and some of the people who sell my book made it a very much worth while visit. The Swedish Embassy in Madrid struck my as wonderfully switched on and supportive. It would be nice to see more embassies around the world make such good social and political use of cultural opportunities.
But back to where I began. The allergy. Miraculously I managed to go through with my speeches in both places, reserving the worst attacks of coughing for the social events.
Back in Stockholm I have slowly recovered and today’s torrential rains should help a lot. On Monday I fly to Marseill, this time for a holiday! Can’t wait.