Andrey Kurkov Wins the Halldór Laxness International Literature Prize Skip to content

Andrey Kurkov Wins the Halldór Laxness International Literature Prize

By Larissa Kyzer

Photo: National Centre for Writing, Flickr CC 2.0.

Ukrainian author Andrey Kurkov is the recipient of the 2022 Halldór Laxness International Literature Prize, RÚV reports. The prize, which includes a purse of €15,000 [ISK 2.1 million; $ 14,946] is awarded to internationally recognized authors who have contributed to “a renewal of the narrative tradition,” which were the grounds for Halldór Laxness receiving the Nobel Prize himself in 1955.

One of Ukraine’s best-known novelists and the president of PEN Ukraine, Kurkov will receive the award in person at the University of Iceland on September 7. The award will be presented by Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, after which, the author will deliver a lecture in English. The award ceremony will be followed by a reading with other authors at Iðnó in the evening.

Kurkov is the author of 19 novels, including the wildly successful and satirical Death and the Penguin, which has been translated into more than 30 languages, and 2020’s Grey Bees, which is set in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine and details “his country’s past struggles with Russia.” This year, he’ll publish a book of his own personal diary entries, which he started writing on the eve of the Russian invasion.

He’s also written nine books for children, numerous documentary and TV scripts, and recorded an eight-part audio series for the BBC called “Letter from Ukraine,” detailing life in the country during the current war.

The Halldór Laxness International Literature Prize has been awarded since 2019. English novelist Ian McEwan was the first recipient, followed by Turkish novelist and activist Elif Shafak. Shafak was part of the selection committee for this year’s award, along with journalist Egill Helgason, of the books and literary criticism TV programme Kiljan, and director of the Reykjavík International Literature Festival Stella Soffía Jóhannesdóttir.

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