Conversation with Hanne Orstavik

The famous Norvegian writer tells some news about her life

Milan can be a love choice. The best known Norwegian writer, Hanne Orstavik, author of Amore (Milano, Ponte Alle Grazie, 2019) and There Is a Big Open Square in Bordeaux (Milano, Ponte Alle Grazie, 2018), just to mention two titles already translated into Italian, she arrived in the city because of love. Her husband has convinced her to stay in Milano on a permanent basis, to look at the streets from her window on the dock, to go around simple restaurants. Here, she also has found a place to set her literary works. Romanzo. Milano is her latest work. In Italy, we will have to wait for the publication planned for the next year. But the Norwegian public is already leafing through it, reading this new story. On the memory of the beautiful pages of Amore, we wait to come across once again in a delicate work on human frailty in search of affinity. Meanwhile, the writer has told us some details about herself and her Milano life. Let's read what she has told us

Hanne's literature world

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are and where you come from

I am a Norwegian writer. I was born in the far north of Norway, in Finnmark, on the edge of the Tana river, in the Arctic plain. When I was 16 my family moved to Oslo, where I lived until three years ago. Afterwards I arrived in Milan.


What does literature mean for you? And how did your passion for writing come about?

I don't have a real passion for writing. I need to make myself a place in the world where I can be and I can exist. In literature, and above all in writing, this place hosts me easily.


What are your inspirational readings?

Marguerite Duras, William Faulkner, Per Olov Enquist, Birgitta Trotzig and Virginia Woolf have been really important.



Hanne and Milano

Why did you choose to live in Milan?

Because my husband lives here. I came three years ago to live with him.


Are there any places in Milano that inspire your literature?

Every novel I write has born in one place. Milan was an important place for my latest novel released in Norway a few months ago. It's titled Romanzo. Milano. Milano is a place with an important role due to the architecture, the structure of the city, its history, the canals all. But once the book is finished, the intensity vanishes, everything that was open and sharp becomes still and calm.


Your latest novel is set in Milano, but for now it has only been published in Norway. How do you describe Milano?

The novel will be printed next year here in Italy, for details you will have to wait for the translation. The book is set in Milano - yes. It is a novel about being orphans and the need to belong to a place and a person. It also tells of how art can give an entrance to life.


Tell us about your typical day in Milan

I'm always happy to wake up exactly here, at home with a view of the Darsena and over Milano roofs. On a simple day I have breakfast in my pajamas on the sofa with my husband. Then I read or write until I need a break, then I go to the gym. Afterwards, I have my lunch at home alone and continue working. In the afternoon, I like to go for a walk before the light goes out. The evening is a new joyful moment, with aperitif and dinner, we often dine out in Darsena area in simple and nice places.


A Norwegian writer friend comes to Milano to find the inspiration of writing: what places would you recommend visiting?

I will give him the map and tell him to follow his desire. I find the church of San Maurizio very beautiful. But for a Norwegian, walking in Milan is a spectacle everywhere.


From a cultural point of view, what are the strongest points of Milan compared to other Italian or European cities?

Milan offers the possibility to dialogue between our bodies and the body of its architecture.


You have three wishes for your future. Can you reveal them to us?

Love, write, live - what could be more beautiful?!

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