The Secret Manuscripts of the Future Library

This same committee selects authors who are invited to contribute each year. We look for people who give voice to something intrinsic, which is why we never preplan, insists Katie Patterson. We issue one call at a time because we never know what next year will bring.

A writer who claims to be willing to cooperate begins a unique process in which he must keep the tiniest details secret — the only element made public, except the title. He can write a word like a long novel in any language he likes, untranslated.

« Knowing what’s in these books is a deal breaker. We don’t know what the authors wrote because it wasn’t written for us. »

A quote from Katie Patterson, artist

War and Peace is written in very small font, says Katie Patterson. And luckily it worked!”,”text”:”We wanted to make sure all the manuscripts fit inside the glass cases of the quiet room. [de la bibliothèque d’Oslo], we tested a version of War and Peace written in a very small font, says Katie Patterson. Fortunately, it worked!”}}”>We wanted to make sure all the manuscripts fit inside the glass cases of the quiet room [de la bibliothèque d’Oslo]We tested the version of War and Peace It’s written in a very small font, says Katie Patterson. And luckily, it worked!

Liberation act

Ten years later Margaret Atwood wanted to add her stone to the building – We couldn’t believe the quick response! – Katie Patterson and Anne Pete Hovind are surprised every time a writer accepts their invitation.

Canadian writer Margaret Atwood was the first contributor to Oslo’s future library. Photo: Kristin von Hirsch/Katie Paterson

Like the Norwegian Karl Ove Knausgaard, for whom text is like a small ship sent into the future, the Canadian writer sees writing as a time capsule; [elle] The writer of words and the reader who receives them are always separated by time.

« How strange to think of my own voice – so long silent – suddenly awakened after 100 years. »

A quote from Margaret Atwood, editor

For Turkish author Elif Shafak, who submitted the library’s fourth manuscript, reading the future is like writing a letter you leave in the river. He writes that you never know where it will go and who will read it. You only rely on time.

Ocean Vuong, David Mitchell, Sjón, Han Kang, Tsitsi Dangarembga and Judith Schalansky are among the authors who have responded to the call since 2014.

Close-up of the cardboard box containing the manuscript.
Manuscript submitted by Icelandic author Sjon, who signed the third text to join the Future Library. Photo: Kristin von Hirsch/Katie Paterson

Valeria Luiselli, author d The story of my teeth, Archives of Lost Children And Tell me the result, would soon submit his manuscript, the latter being supplemented by a small piece by Deichmann Bjorwiga. The Mexican author, who grew up between South Africa, South Korea and India, chose to put aside the book he had been working on for more than four years for a few months to devote himself to writing this mystery. Manuscript.

Valeria Luiselli, who arrived in New York a few days before leaving for Oslo, assures her that she has not a shadow of regret. She looks there The cutest call ever received [sa] Competition.

« I don’t know how much it will change my relationship to writing, but it will also change my relationship to the impermanence of life and the fragility of time. »

A quote from Valeria Luiselli, editor

For fear of breaking the spell, the writer is careful not to say too much about his text. Freed from criticism, he allowed himself to play more with form and indulge in raw emotion. On the other end of the line, she thinks aloud to choose the right word: I think I could have written a more daring text, maybe?

There is something liberating about writing without worrying about audience reception, the author explains. But after typing the last line, It was hard to get rid of itshe says.

Print the paper version, erase all traces of it from my computer, and that’s it, it’s done. I never had to let go of a job I had invested so much energy, heart and soul into. It was a process that taught me a lot.

However, to this unprecedented freedom, an element of responsibility is added, as Valeria Luiselli notes, feeling throughout the writing to create a work of meaning for future generations.

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