The Future Library: Books you can only read if you live until 2114

The Future Library: Books you can only read if you live until 2114
One hurdle that can be tricky for any writer to clear is identifying their target audience.  Sometimes, figuring out exactly who’d like to read their book and the best way they can engage them is harder than it sounds. But imagine if you were writing for an audience who aren’t even born yet.

Most writers hope their works will stand the test of time, but what if you were writing a book that wasn’t going to be read at all until a century from now? That’s the task facing the authors involved in the Future Library, a 100 year long artwork conceived by Scottish artist Katie Paterson.

The Future Library began in 2014 and is collecting one piece of writing a year until the year 2114, when the collection of 100 works will be made public for the first time. The project is taking place in Oslo, Norway, with the manuscripts being held in trust in the New Deichmanske Public Library in Bjørvika, Oslo, in a room specially designed by Paterson. If you think this venture doesn’t sound innovative enough then, well… you must be very hard to please, but you’ll be glad to know they’re also planting 1000 trees in Nordmarka, a forest on the outskirts of Oslo, which will provide the paper for the anthologies when they are printed in 2114.

Novelists Margaret Atwood and David Mitchell were the first two authors to contribute to the library in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Paterson has now announced that the third author to add their writing to the project will be Icelandic poet, novelist and lyricist Sigurjón Birgir Sigurðsson, known as Sjón. If, like us, you feel slightly cheated that you’re going to be missing out on reading their contributions, you can at least take comfort in the fact that you can still enjoy the 37 novels they’ve written between them, as well as numerous short stories, essays and poetry collections.

Listening Books members can listen to The Blue Fox by Sjón, available on MP3 CD, as well as numerous Margaret Atwood novels including The Handmaid’s Tale, The Year of the Flood, The Edible Woman and Oryx and Crake.

We’ll leave you with the inspiring reason behind David Mitchell’s decision to take part in the Future Library, which he said could be summed up by a Chinese proverb that states;

Civilisation … is the basking in the shade of trees planted a hundred years ago, trees which the gardener knew would outlive him or her, but which he or she planted anyway for the pleasure of people not yet born.”

So, maybe you could have a go at writing a story and burying it in your garden, you never know who might find it!


You can read more about the Future Library project here.

This article was written by Amy Flinders

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