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Helsinki Book Fair programme more extensive, theme discussions focus on power

Helsinki Book Fair programme more extensive, theme discussions focus on power

Helsinki Book Fair 2023 will, once again, offer a diverse programme for literature lovers. This year, there will be more than 900 discussions and author interviews with more than 1,000 writers, influencers, researchers, artists and decision-makers. In addition to top Finnish authors, there will be about 30 international guest writers from ten countries. The topic of thematic discussions is power in literature. New in the book fair programme are discussions about authors' productions and a stronger presence of book social media. The Helsinki Book Fair will be held 26–29 October 2023 at the Helsinki Exhibition and Convention Centre, now for the 23rd time.

"The program has now been published and it offers a versatile package where everyone will definitely find something to their liking. The event offers a meeting place for writers and readers, a wide selection of books and programmes on 15 stages. This year's programme theme is power: the Helsinki Book Fair asks how literature handles, dismantles and exercises power. Other topical themes emerging from the fair programme this year include Ukraine, Russia and war, the climate crisis and biodiversity loss, artificial intelligence and literature, and the stories of sexual and gender minorities," says Ville Blåfield, Programme Director of Helsinki Book Fair.

Plenty of literary prizes will be awarded at the book fair again this year. On Sunday, the results of the readers' vote for the all-time Finlandia book will be announced and the traditional panel of finalists for the Helsingin Sanomat Literature Prize will be heard.

Interesting guest authors

All Finnish star authors of the year will perform at the Helsinki Book Fair, from Kjell Westö to Sofi Oksanen, Anna-Leena Härkönen to Juha Itkonen, Niko Hallikainen to Antti Tuuri and Leena Lehtolainen to Sirpa Kähkönen. International guest writers include Mikhail Šiškin of Russian origin and currently living in Switzerland, Hernan Diaz from the United States, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in the fiction category for his work Trust, world star of Italian literature Paolo Giordano, journalist and non-fiction writer Åsne Seierstad from Norway, Alex Schulman from Sweden, beloved by Finnish audiences, and Harry Whittaker, who has completed his mother Lucinda Riley's Seven Sisters series from Great Britain. There are 30 international guest writers from ten different countries.

In connection with their biographies, the fair will feature singer Katri Helena together with author Elina Hirvonen, former Governor of the Bank of Finland Sirkka Hämäläinen, Minister of Education Anna-Maja Henriksson, artist Katariina Souri together with author Eveliina Talvitie, spouse of the President of the Republic of Finland Jenni Haukio, and musician Maija Vilkkumaa together with author Miina Supinen. The book Vilkkumaa will be published at the Helsinki Book Fair on Saturday 28.10.

Power debates include, among others, presidential candidates

The theme of the year's programme will be approached in a series of four power debates produced by the Helsinki Book Fair together with Helsingin Sanomat. Laura Lindstedt, Pajtim Statovci, Silvia Hosseini, Kirsi Piha, Saara Turunen and Ville Hytönen approach power from different perspectives. On Friday 27.10., as part of the discussion series, a large panel of presidential candidates will be held, where the candidates will share how literature has built their path to power. The power debates will be streamed live and can be followed at

”Power is approached from as many directions as possible. In addition to the power games of human relationships, society and world politics, an important question is what kind of power authors and publishers use,” says Blåfield. “Who decides whose stories are told?”

Discussions on writers’ productions

This year, Helsinki Book Fair also digs into older productions of beloved authors. In their own discussions, productions of among others Edith Södergran, Emily Dickinson, Mirkka Rekola and Ian M. Banks are covered. The production and significance of Miki Liukkonen, who passed away this year, for Finnish literature will be discussed at Senaatintori stage on Thursday, October 26.

”In addition to new books, discussions about older productions of beloved authors have been asked for. The classics are timeless, and many of them have new perspectives in this time,” says Blåfield. The Antiquarian Book fair organised in connection with the book fair and the reprints taken by publishers also offer the opportunity to buy classic works at the book fair.

Social networking platforms for book lovers and digital forms of books

This year, the Töölönlahti stage will focus on all digital forms of the book and social media communities. In addition to audio and e-books, book blogs, booktok, bookgram and literary podcasts will be on stage. On Thursday, book podcasts will be on stage, on Saturday we will discuss what appeals to readers about the best-selling #booktok book and discuss the importance of the bookgram for authors. On Sunday, the value of old and difficult books will be discussed, and the book fair will end with a discussion on book social media about the book fair's favourites and secret treasures. In connection with the Töölönlahti stage, the Book Fair offers book social media its own meeting place, where you can meet other social media influencers and hear about book social media communities.

"The growing popularity of audiobooks also involves challenging discussions, for example, from the perspective of authors' earnings, and these questions will also be discussed at the fair. In the big picture, however, the digital forms and communities of books are joyful things for reading and the entire book industry," says Blåfield. "The Helsinki Book Fair wants to celebrate literature and books in all its forms."

The programme on 15 stages  is created in collaboration with partners

The content of the Helsinki Book Fair programme has evolved over the years, and the programme is carried out in cooperation with various actors. The Union of Finnish Writers will produce a programme on the Töölö stage on Saturday. On Thursday and Friday, Tiedetori curated by the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies, will bring researched information on surprising topics, such as shopping malls, counterfeiters and old-fashioned concepts relating to old age, to the Kruununhaka stage. Nuoren Voiman Liitto has compiled the poetry programmes, students of Kallio Upper Secondary School of Performing Arts have compiled the Kallio stage programme and representatives of The Finnish Whodunnit Society have compiled the Detective Story Saturday programme. Svenska Litteratursällskapet i Finland has put together the programmes of two Swedish-language stages, Fiskehamnen and Blåbärslandet. There has also been cooperation with the Association of Finnish non-fiction writers, the Finnish Comics Society and all publishers and operators participating in the fair. Children are offered daily experiential activities on the Toukola and Kumpula stages, where the theme is Urban excursion. The cartoon programme is compiled for fair Saturdays.

The programmes of the Senaatintori stage and the Hakaniemi stage are streamed online, and the admission ticket entitles you to watch the videos live or after the event.

A nationally significant cultural forum and literary event

The Helsinki Book Fair promotes the hobby of reading, the appreciation of literature and the sale of books in Finland. The event is a nationally significant cultural forum; a contemporary pioneer, a challenging conversationalist, a storyteller and a civilizer of the heart. The most important values ​​of the book fair are freedom of speech, equality and respect for human dignity. Almost 300 actors from the literary and cultural sector will participate in Helsinki Book Fair 2023.

Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre organises the Helsinki Book Fair on 26-29 October 2023 at the Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre in cooperation with the Finnish Publishers Association and the Booksellers’ Association of Finland. In connection with the Helsinki Book Fair, there is the Antiquarian Book Fair, which is organised in cooperation with Suomen Antikvariaattiyhdistys ry (the Finnish antiquarian association), as well as the Record Fair and the Stamp Fair. At the same time, there is also the Wine & Food event and the On The Plate event for special diets (Sat-Sun).

The event is open Thu-Sat 26 - 28 October from 10 am to 8 pm and Sunday 29 October from 10 am to 6 pm. You should buy tickets in advance for a cheaper price:

Further information:
Information Specialist Teija Armanto, Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre, tel. +358 50 376 0804,
Programme Director Ville Blåfield, tel. +358 50 310 3017, #kirjamessut

insta @helsinginkirjamessut
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Pictures from Helsinki Book Fair

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