The Norwegian literary system in brief

Literary Literature Book Deal Book Store readingWoman reading book in a book store. Photo: Maia Habegger / Unsplash.

The Norwegian literary system in brief

Norway’s literary system is based on the assumption that Norway, in its population of 4.3 million, is not a big country. Therefore, most of the literature that is published in Norway is either not marketable or has a small market. Additionally, this very small population is concentrated in one corner of the world. In this article, I will look at the amazing adventure of literature in Norway, how this country with its very small population has made such progress. If you are interested in Norwegian literature, I suggest you be sure to accompany me through this article.

Since the sixties, a comprehensive consensus has emerged that the advancement of literature is a burden on society. Following this principle, the authorities took several and several supportive plans to ensure both the existence of literary diversity and to inspire the creation of modern Norwegian literature, while ensuring that the cultural heritage is published in the original language, but also available to the world. Therefore, today the Norwegian literary system is defined by these indices.

Direct and indirect support of government

The most important reason for the development of Norwegian literature in recent years is the extraordinary support of the country’s government. The government, with direct and indirect help, is trying to maintain the status of Norwegian literature in the world, which I think has been extremely successful. The government supports a variety of literary systems. The goal of the state is to support the creation and distribution of these material contributions, to create a motive for innovation and creativity.

Exemption from excise tax

The exclusion of excise taxes on books is the most important contribution of the government in support of literature. The Norwegian government levy indirect taxes on types of goods and services. The rate of this tax for most goods is up to twenty-five per cent of the retail price. In 1967, books were exempted from this tax. The goal was to reduce the price and encourage the reading of books. The tax exemption is for implementation of this policy of supporting language and culture and aims at diversifying and publishing of books in Norwegian.

The «Book Purchase» scheme

The government helps literature in another way, simply called the «Book Purchase» scheme. Through this scheme, the Norwegian Culture Council buys a fixed number of the various titles every year. From every book bought, it distributes a number to Norwegian libraries. By doing so, the government provides publishers with a minimum circulation. This is an important support to the publishing economy. The funding of the scheme is provided through the state budget.

Literary grants

The Norwegian government also contributes subsidies to the authors. The Norwegian Culture Council monitors these subsidies. The finance of government libraries also provides facilities for writer organizations. A large part of these facilities is subsidized with funds, which are paid out to writers and translators.

Norwegian Writer’s Union

Writer's UnionThe task of the Norwegian Writers’ Union is to organize literary writers. The union was founded in 1893 and now has more than 600 authors as members. The goal of this union is to protect the Norwegian literature and support Norwegian authors. The union is headed by a board of eight members. This Board is elected by the General Assembly. This union is also a literary council. The members of the council are well-versed in literature and have extensive insights; Hence the name, Council of the Literary Union Experts.

This council will examine the members’ requests and offer grants. In addition to the board of directors and literary scholars, there is another board in the union that is engaged in the international affairs of the union. This board is a permanent organization in the union. Its mission is to monitor issues such as freedom of expression, and the pursuit of the fate of suppressed writers.

Any author, who is resident in Norway, whose works are published, and has literary value, can be a member of this union.

The basis for the request and the requirement for membership is at least two literary books. Upon each request for membership, the Council of the Literary Union, composed of nine members of the Writers ‘Union, reads the applicant’s books and submits its opinion to the Board of Directors of the Writers’ Union in writing.

The final decision – to reject or accept the request for membership – lies with the Board of Directors. The application form – as well as the specific explanations for familiarizing or applying for the membership application – is available at the office of the Norwegian Writer’s Union.


This article is written by our contributor, Ali Ashrafi, to be shared with the esteemed readers of Norway Today.

© Ali Ashrafi / #Norway Today
RSS Feed