Literature The book fair should be the beginning of a social debate, says new program director Ville Blåfield – “The author’s speech is more valuable than the throws of Twitter directors”

Sun shine Ville Blåfield face throughout the video call. Blåfield works for communications agency Miltton, but already in the spring he has to redistribute his time.

Blåfield has been elected the new program director of the Helsinki Book Fair. The decision was unanimous, says a spokesperson for the Exhibition Center Teija Armanto.

Ville Blåfield estimates that he has been at the Helsinki Book Fair almost every year since 2001, when it was held for the first time. First as a visitor, then as a journalist and interviewer, and finally as a writer myself.

“It’s a really dear event for me without any frosting,” he says.

So it was easy to agree when the book fair development team called for the task. The development group consists of representatives of publishers and bookstores, as well as the Finnish Publishing Association and the Bookstore Association.

Ville Blåfield has admired its predecessor from afar, Ronja Salmen, the work done at the book fair, which for its part has shown the value of the program director ‘s work.

“Ronja has enriched the book fair with her own vision and personality and taken them in the right direction in a way that has remained relevant to those who have been there since 2001.”

Already last fall, Ville Blåfield attended one of the new parts of the book fair as he hosted the audiobook stage. In recent years, audiobooks have gathered more and more users, so a separate stage was set up for them at the 2021 fair.

For authors, audiobooks are not an unequivocally positive thing, as listening to an audiobook for a writer’s account drops a significantly smaller amount than buying a book. Even such literary issues can be discussed at book fairs, Blåfield says.

Discussion, dialogue on social and current issues, is what Ville Blåfield wants for the book fair.

“Here, too, I follow Ronja’s direction,” he notes. “It would be sweet for the fair to be a social forum with output and interesting speeches. Not only would the topics of discussion be included in the book program to be published in the autumn, but the fair would also be the beginning of a social and cultural debate. ”

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And not just for non-fiction and journalism, but also for narrative social thinkers.

“The theme of the book fair could be some more limited, topical issue, surrounded by a few high-profile discussions,” Ville Blåfield envisions.

When having made a long journalistic career, Blåfield moved to Miltton four years ago, raising questions and comments in the field. They might come now, Blåfield speculates.

On the other hand, “Looking at this list of names from the predecessors, you can see that no meritant writers or publishers are sought as program directors.”

Rather, the program director has the advantage of being next to the industry, the book fair development team explained to Blåfield as they discussed the task. Blåfield feels that his background in both journalism and communications will help him see what kind of discussion would be relevant and relevant right now.

What makes the task special is Blåfield’s own relationship with literature.

“I’m probably a true ordinary passionate reader. I have a very lively relationship with literature. ”

Blåfield both reads and listens to books. For him, audio books have not replaced readable books, but rather increased the consumption of literature. He is currently listening Pirkko Saision Passion as an audiobook read by the author himself.

“In every way, I am a true typical Finnish reader. I read Saisiot and Lundberg and Vikings, that canon, ”he says.

When he was younger, Blåfield read more non-fiction, but with age, fiction takes up more and more space on his bedside table.

According to Blåfield, the role of literature in the midst of contemporary Finnish fiction is significant. “A speech that an author has been preparing for years is, of course, more valuable than the half-hearted throws of Twitter executives like me.”

Jobs With Miltton still going on, Blåfield will be out of his day job for a couple of months a year during the Book Fair years. He will be assisted in designing and producing the fair program by the Book Fair Development Team and the partners planning the program for the fair. In addition, he reviews works published during the year with publishers.

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There is no longer a theme country at the Helsinki Book Fair. Last autumn, the main roof theme of the fair was dialogue. There are hundreds of exhibitors and book topics at the fair, and Ville Blåfield does not need a theme for the fair as a whole program.

“The theme could be some more limited, topical issue, surrounded by a few high-profile discussions,” he envisions.

We are in the middle of an international, topical literature debate. Ville Blåfield would like to pass on that experience to the Fair Visitor.

“For this to happen, one should be able to predict what Zeitgeist will be next fall,” Blåfield says. “And not just here in our own juice, but also internationally. That it would be part of the world literature debate. ”

As program director, Ronja Salmi focused especially on children, young people and young adults, and this work will of course continue, Blåfield promises. His own development idea, on the other hand, is related to reaching the inhabitants of international Helsinki: would it be possible to organize an English-language program at one fair, on one stage.

Ville Blåfield, who wrote four non-fiction books, used to read non-fiction in particular, but in recent years, fiction has taken over the table.

Book Fair have moved to the grid with the pandemic, and digital offerings will continue to be part of the fair, Blåfield says. Among other things, he dreams that the discussions at the book fair will later be listened to in a kind of podcast library.

Through the video connection, it is easier than before to get big international names to the fair. However, there is always more power in the physical encounter, Blåfield points out. One wish name as a guest author at the fair could be, for example A small life American who rose to world fame with the novel Hanya Yanagihara, whose acclaimed novelty To Paradise just appeared in English.

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However, big names are not the only major thing at the fair, Blåfield points out.

“There have been some great moments at the book fair that it also makes smaller, passionate amateur communities stand out,” Blåfield says. As appeared at the fair last fall from seven in the evening Olli Sinivaara, who read his poems about trees to a dozen listeners. “I thought moments like that were super valuable.”

The new program director has a lot of ideas. But: “In all that now, the dustman must be the discleimer that I’m just starting this dune! What is very different is what is possible. ”

Ville Blåfield has a long career as a journalist. Four years ago, he moved to Miltton, a communications agency.

Ville Blåfield

  • Born in Helsinki in 1980.

  • Worked at Helsingin Sanomat as a development manager and supervisor, editor of Ilta-Sanomat and Suomen Kuvalehti, editor-in-chief of the Society.

  • Since 2018, he has been responsible for media at the communications agency Miltton.

  • Published with Leena Sharma the book Who Will Play… The Craving and Price of Publicity 2007 and 2015 together with Reetta Rädy Who’s crazy about being a politician?

  • In 2019, he published a book on the history of cultural work against the Darkness of the Spirit and, together with his sister, photographer Heli Blåfield, the book Saunavuoro.

  • Last read: Brandon Taylor: Filthy animals, Pirkko Saisio: Passio, Sally Rooney: Beautiful world, where are you.

  • Important books: John Williams: Stoner, Minna Lindgren: Leif Segerstam Now !, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Homecoming, Ulla-Lena Lundberg: Ice.

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