The Future Library Project Collects Works That Won’t Be Released For a Century

istock / istock

Scottish artist Katie Paterson is building a literary time capsule. She is the creator of the Future Library Project, which will collect a new work from a great contemporary writer each year for the next century. All of the novels, stories, and poems will remain unread and unseen for the next 100 years, until they are all simultaneously published in 2114.

The special anthology will eventually be printed on paper made from 1000 trees planted in 2014 in Nordmarka, a forest outside Oslo, which members of the Future Library Project will tend to over the next century. The library is simultaneously a gift for future generations and a living art project which will connect a century of literary growth with the growth of the Nordmarka saplings.

According to the Future Library website, “Tending the forest and ensuring its preservation for the 100-year duration of the artwork finds a conceptual counterpoint in the invitation extended to each writer: to conceive and produce a work in the hopes of finding a receptive reader in an unknown future.”

So far, two authors have contributed to the Future Library Project. Last year, legendary author Margaret Atwood donated a novel called Scribbler Moon. And now, The Guardian reports, novelist David Mitchell has submitted a novel entitled From Me Flows What You Call Time. Mitchell, whose previous books include Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks, is known for works that explore the passage of time, and life in strange and uncertain futures. On May 28, he visited the Nordmarka forest, where he handed over his Future Library novel.

Though fans of Mitchell, Atwood, and other future contributors may find the idea of being unable to read these works frustrating, Mitchell says he sees the Future Library Project as a symbol of hope for the future. “It’s a little glimmer of hope in a season of highly depressing news cycles, that affirms we are in with a chance of civilization in 100 years,” he told The Guardian. “Everything is telling us that we’re doomed, but the Future Library is a candidate on the ballot paper for possible futures. It brings hope that we are more resilient than we think: that we will be here, that there will be trees, that there will be books, and readers, and civilization.”

Watch Mitchell discuss the Future Library Project in greater depth below.

[h/t The Guardian]