Ian McEwan Receives Halldór Laxness Prize - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Ian McEwan Receives Halldór Laxness Prize

Published September 20, 2019

Sam O'Donnell

Pulitzer Prize winning author Ian McEwan was in Iceland yesterday to receive the Halldór Laxness International Literary Prize. He is the first to receive this prestigious award, which is granted to authors who contribute to a renewal of the narrative tradition, which were the grounds for Laxness winning the Nobel Prize in 1955.

Both President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson and Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir were present to witness the ceremony. Katrín spoke briefly and called him the “Decathlete of literature. He does not focus on just one sport, but competes in all of them.”

He has written novels, short stories, poems, even an opera. His philosophy is that reading must not be boring, and takes the pleasure of reading seriously. This is reflected in his work. When he was presented with the award, the crowd erupted into applause and gave a standing ovation.

“This is an enormous privilege,” he said. After the ceremony, he spoke extensively on his background as a writer, and what the work of Halldór Laxness meant to him, especially the novel ‘Independent People.’ He signed copies of his books in the lobby after speaking.

His latest novel, ‘Machines Like Me‘ hit shelves earlier this year, and he is releasing a satire called ‘The Cockroach‘ later this month.

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