Iceland has long had a love affair with the literary arts. The tradition is born from the warrior poet Vikings, who settled on the island and used its wild landscapes as the setting for countless stories and sagas. Today, it is said that approximately one in three Icelanders will publish a book in their lifetime, and indeed the country has produced a wide variety of incredibly talented writers. The Reykjavík International Literary Festival seeks to highlight the amazing work these scribes, as well as provide a platform for them to further advertise their works. The biennial festival has been going for over thirty years now and offers a wide range of events in English, with no admission fee. Get to know some of the Icelandic writers who will be taking part this year.
Steinunn Sigurðardóttir is an Icelandic novelist and poet whose writing career began in 1980. Her novel, “Hjartastaður” (Heart Place), won the Icelandic prize for literature in 1995. She has even had one of her books, “Tímaþjófurinn” (The Thief of Time), turned into a film in France called Stolen Life.
Ragnar Helgi Ólafsson is a writer and visual artist who lends his considerable talents to a number of projects. He writes poetry, novels, short stories and even plays. His work has received the Tómas Guðmundsson Literary Prize and been nominated for both The Icelandic Literary Prize and The DVCulture Prize.
Steinunn Helgadóttir is a writer of poetry and prose who graduated from the academy of arts in Gothenburg. Her first collection of poetry, titled “Kafbátakórinn” (The Submarine Choir) was published in 2011. That same year, Steinunn received the Jón úr Vör poetry prize and won the Icelandic Women’s Literature Prize for her novel “Raddir úr húsi loftskeytamannsins” (Voices From the Radio Operator‘s House).
Einar Kárason Einar Kárason has been a full-time writer since 1978, when his career began with publishing poetry in literary magazines. His first novel, “Þetta eru asnar Guðjón,” was published in 1981 but he is perhaps best known for his novel “Þar sem djöflaeyjan rís” (Devils Island), which was subsequently made into a film.
Fríða Ísberg is an extremely popular Iceland. She is a member of the Icelandic poetry collective Svikaskáld (The Impostor Poets) and also lends her poetic abilities to the art of poetic review. She is a recipient of the Grassroots Grant from the Icelandic Literature Center and in 2018 she was nominated for The Icelandic Women’s Literature Prize.
Hallgrímur Helgason is not only a big name in Icelandic literature but also an accomplished painter, translator, and columnist. Two of his novels have been turned into movies and a further four have been adapted for the stage. His works can be found in the collections of several art museums around the world.
Sigríður Hagalín Both a writer and a reporter for RÚV, her first book, “Eyland,” came out in 2016. She explored the idea of family and what it meant to be an Icelandic person. She is following this up with her newest novel, “The Holy Word,” in which the brother of a missing person travels the world to find his sister and learns strange things about their family in the process.
Friðgeir Einarsson is a highly passionate theatre artist who lends his talents to directing, performing and writing. He has participated in a wide variety of Icelandic theatre ensembles leading up to 2011 in which his solo work “Nothing” was a part of the 2011 sequences festival. This included the publishing of the book “The Amateur’s Guide to the Large Signification Collider.”
Eva Kamilla works as a librarian and is a dedicated writer of romantic stories. She has been published in the 2017 Ástarsögur íslenskra kvenna (The Love Stories of Icelandic Women) collection. In 2018 she published a love story with darkly comedic undertones titled Kópavogskrónika which is set in Kópavogur.
Dóri DNA (or Halldór Laxness Halldórsson) is an actor and author. He began his career as a rapper but has sadly since stopped. He wrote and performed in the play “Þetta er grín án djóks” and then shortly after released his first poetry collection titled ‘Hugmyndir: Andvirði hundrað milljónir’. He was nominated for the DV Cultural Prize in 2016.
Þóra Hjörleifsdóttir is a highly talented and highly educated writer. Her first novel Kviku was released in February 2019 however prior to this she had also participated in the writing and publishing of the books ‘Ég er ekki að rétta upp hönd’ in 2017 and”‘Ég er fagnaðarsöngur” in 2018.
Jónas Reynir Jónas Reynir studied a masters degree in creative writing at the University of Iceland. He is well known for writing the novels “Millilending” (Through Flight), “Krossfiskar” (Starfish), as well as the award, winning play “Við deyjum á Mars” (We Die On Mars). He has even published a book of poetry and received the Tómas Guðmundsson Poetry Prize in 2017.
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