Books but no billionaire for Høstfest this year

Norway’s billionaire businessman won’t be autographing the new English version of his biography at Norsk Høstfest this year, reports the Minot Daily News.

Norway’s wealthiest man, Olav Thon, 86, is scheduled for hip surgery Wednesday so must put off his planned visit to Høstfest.

“This is kind of unexpected,” said Al Larson of Minot, who is publishing the English version of the book about Thon. “He so wanted to come to Høsfest and spend a few days. It is a disappointment, but the book is really quite interesting.”

The book’s initial release will be Tuesday at the joint service club meeting preceding the start of Høstfest. “Olav Thon: Billionaire in a Parka” will be available at Høstfest as will the author, Hallgrim Berg. Berg is a former member of Norway’s Parliament and previously published author who is familiar to past Høstfest visitors. Berg will be in Trondheim Hall to talk about the book and sign copies.

Larson, owner of North American Heritage Press, became acquainted with Berg through Høstfest. That led to the project to translate the version of Thon’s biography that had been published in Norwegian in 2008.

Larson, who has printed a number of books about famous Norwegians and by Norwegian authors, undertook his first translation project with the Thon portrait.

“That was no easy task,” Larson said. “We had one translator in Colorado and another in England working simultaneously.”

The two translators communicated with JoAnn Winistorfer of Pick City, who edited the material for publication. The translation work began in June and took about three months.

“It’s really quite good,” Larson said of the book. “I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of it and the quality of the writing and the content.”

Thon comes through as an energetic, conservative and inventive businessman more interested in investing in his property-management business than in living a rich lifestyle or seeking tax havens, he said.

“He’s the largest taxpayer in Norway, and he kind of delights in that,” Larson said.

The rags-to-riches account of Thon’s life could be considered a book on business, health and fitness, travel or a do-it-yourself handbook, Larson wrote in an introduction included in the English translation.

Berg writes as an introduction, “The Olav Thon story is one of remarkable talent, creativity, energy, and above all, hard work and endurance. The values of his home and family are imbued with him daily the belief in personal initiative, private property, trust, thrift, responsibility, fidelity, promises, decorum, politeness and even generosity.”

Thon remains active in his business interests today. A sportsman, he still can be seen in the forests and highlands of Norway in his worn parka and faded red cap every weekend hiking, biking and skiing, Berg wrote. A humanitarian, Thon announced last year that he plans to leave his wealth someday to society and particularly to medical science.


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