Acclaimed Vietnamese American writer and poet, Ocean Vuong, has been named as the seventh writer to contribute to Future Library. Vuong will hand over his manuscript at the annual ceremony in the depths of the Nordmarka forest, spring 2021. The work will be stored in a special designed room at the new public library Deichman Bjørvika, Oslo, until its release in the year 2114.
Future Library is a public artwork conceived by Scottish artist Katie Paterson that unfolds over 100 years in the city of Oslo, Norway. The first contributor to the library was Canadian author Margaret Atwood (2014) followed by British novelist David Mitchell (2015); Icelandic poet, novelist, lyricist Sjón (2016); Turkish author and political commentator, Elif Shafak (2017); South Korean novelist Han Kang (2018) and in 2019, Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgård.
The Future Library Trust selected Ocean Vuong and on behalf of the board, Katie Paterson says: “Ocean Vuong writes with a radiance unlike any author I know of. Transforming a ‘hurricane of feeling’ into images of pure, startling beauty, he proves language can penetrate deeper than even human touch. Ocean Vuong’s poetry and prose is raw and fearless, capturing the essence of survival. In a year of unprecedented global suffering, we are fortunate to welcome this remarkable writer to Future Library, a leading voice of the young, LBGT+ immigrant experience.”
On his contribution to Future Library, Vuong says: “One of the most engaging promises of literature is that it speaks both to the present and, if lucky, to the future. So to be a part of Future Library, a project that so courageously hopes for and is built towards a human future nearly a century ahead of us, feels like the daring and exhilarating optimism that is required of any literary work. In a way, this project is no different than the project of living on Earth, in that every death is also the death of a library. So to preserve one in this way feels like the antithesis of dying, and yet we must die to get there.”
Ocean Vuong (b.1988) is an award-winning poet, essayist and novelist. He is the author of The New York Times bestselling novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, out from Penguin Press (2019) and forthcoming in 31 languages. A recipient of a 2019 MacArthur “Genius” Grant, he is also the author of the critically acclaimed poetry collection, Night Sky with Exit Wounds, a New York Times Top 10 Book of 2016, winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Whiting Award, the Thom Gunn Award, and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. A Ruth Lilly fellow from the Poetry Foundation, his honors include fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, The Elizabeth George Foundation, The Academy of American Poets, and the Pushcart Prize.
Vuong’s writings have been featured in The Atlantic, Granta, Harpers, The Nation, New Republic, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Village Voice, and American Poetry Review, which awarded him the Stanley Kunitz Prize for Younger Poets. Selected by Foreign Policy magazine as a 2016 100 Leading Global Thinker, Ocean was also named by BuzzFeed Books as one of “32 Essential Asian American Writers” and has been profiled on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” PBS NewsHour, Teen Vogue, Interview, Poets & Writers, and The New Yorker.
Born in Saigon, Vietnam, he lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he serves as an Associate Professor in the MFA Program for Poets and Writers at UMass-Amherst.”
1. About Future Library
One thousand trees have been planted in Nordmarka, a forest just outside Oslo, which will supply paper for a special anthology of books to be printed in 100 years’ time. Between now and then, one writer every year will contribute a text, with the writings held in trust, unpublished, until 2114. All 100 manuscripts will be held in a specially designed room in the Deichman Bjørvika, Oslo. No adult living today will ever know what is inside the boxes, other than that they are texts of some kind that will withstand the ravages of time.
Conceived by Katie Paterson, Future Library is commissioned and produced by Bjørvika Utvikling, and managed by the Future Library Trust. The room in the Deichman Bjørvika is designed by the artist and architects Atelier Oslo and Lund Hagem. The project is supported by the City of Oslo, Agency for Cultural Affairs and Agency for Urban Environment.
2. The Future Library Trust
The paramount objective of the Future Library Trust is to compassionately sustain the artwork Future Library for its 100 years duration. Guiding the selection of authors is the Future Library Trust, whose trustees include artist Katie Paterson; Publishing Director of Hamish Hamilton Simon Prosser; former Director of the Deichmanske Bibliotek Liv Sæteren; Publishing Director of Forlaget Press Håkon Harket; Editor-in-Chief of Oktober Press Ingeri Engelstad, and Anne Beate Hovind (Chair) Project Director at Bjørvika Utvikling. The authors are being selected for their outstanding contributions to literature and poetry and for their work’s ability to capture the imagination of this and future generations. Two key words in the selection process are ‘imagination’ and ‘time’. The length of the piece is entirely for the author to decide.
3. Bjørvika Utvikling: Commissioners of a public art programmery Trust
Future Library is commissioned and produced by Bjørvika Utvikling in collaboration with the artists and has been unfolding in Bjørvika, Oslo’s former container port since 2012. The development company is responsible for the construction of the commons, water promenade and technical infrastructure in the new city district in Oslo. More than 1% of the investment budget for the commons is dedicated to art in public space.
4. Deichmanske Bjørvika
Hailed by many as a ‘library of the future’, the Deichman Bjørvika, Oslo’s new main library, opened its doors to the public in June 2020. While seeking to be Norway’s most important arena for literature, the library also looks to become a centre of knowledge for the capital’s citizens as well as a host of cultural experiences that are accessible to everyone. Designed by Atelier Oslo and Lund Hagem Architects, Oslo City Library will house Future Library to signal the library’s ongoing commitment to the supporting future generations of writers, readers and publishers.
5. Nordmarka Forest
Nordmarka is a forested area to the North of Oslo. Approximately one tenth is owned and managed by the City of Oslo on behalf of its residents. Norwegian spruce (Picea abies), birch (Betula pubescens) and pine (Pinus sylvestris) flourish in this area, which is protected by the city against the threat of urban sprawl. With the guidance of foresters from the Agency of Urban Environment who have been tending this land for over 100 years, Katie Paterson planted 1,000 Norwegian spruce trees in May 2014. The roots were hand-treated with a biodegradable wax to protect from weevils. A number of existing spruce, birch and fir remain in the forest, to allow it to regenerate from its own seedbank. Visitors are able to visit the Future Library forest, which is located a 20 minutes hike from Frognerseteren Station.