Skip to navigationSkip to content
Photo © Bjørvika Utvikling by Kristin von Hirsch
Squirreling.
BONE CLOCKWORK

This Norwegian library will keep a new book by the author of “Cloud Atlas” secret for 100 years

Thu-Huong Ha
By Thu-Huong Ha

Reporter

David Mitchell, the celebrated author of Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks, has completed a new manuscript. But it’s unlikely any of his fans will get to read it: The book will be unread and unpublished until 1000 Norwegian trees come to maturity.

The work, titled Me Flows What You Call Time, was commissioned by the Framtidsbiblioteket, or Future Library, which serves as a time capsule for books. It joins the manuscript Scribbler Moon by Margaret Atwood, who was the first author to contribute unpublished work for posterity. Mitchell, who submitted his work on Saturday (May 28), is the second.

They’ll be kept on display but unreadable in Oslo’s new public library, which is expected to open in 2019.

Every year for 100 years, a different author will contribute a new work to the project. In 2114, a forest of 1000 trees planted two years ago outside Oslo will provide paper for a published anthology of all the texts.

The project, conceived by artist Katie Paterson, is a bet on the staying power of printed books. Says Anne Beate Hovind, head of the Future Library Trust, “We believe that we will read on paper, and we believe in the texture of paper.”

Subscribe to the Daily Brief, our morning email with news and insights you need to understand our changing world.

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.