In Oslo this spring, publishing editor Christian Kjelstrup set up a bookshop for one week, selling only one book, the Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa’s Uroens bok (The Book of Disquiet). The shop was named after the book and Uroens bokhandel (‘The Bookshop of Disquiet’) opened at the end of March this year. Kjelstrup had bought up the remaindered stock of the book, which had been issued by another Norwegian publisher.
The stunt was a great success, created a lot of buzz and ended in a big party at a nearby sports arena in the centre of Oslo, sponsored with wine and a lecture on Pessoa’s standing in Portugal by the Portuguese ambassador. There were also readings and interviews with other writers on Pessoa’s book, Fado music, etc. There was a cover charge ‘for the rich and famous: 50 kr’ and ‘poor students and underpaid authors: 20 kr’.
And there was a huge trophy for the translator, Christian Rugstad.
In this short week the bookshop turned this Portuguese cult classic, hitherto practically unknown in Norway, into the talk of the town, and sold more than 1600 copies. The stunt was repeated at a literary festival two months later with equal success. This summer Kjelstrup is planning to take his project to Lisbon.