From the Inside Out

anne carson poet

As Anne Carson stepped on stage to accept the International Vigdís Prize, awarded annually since 2020 for outstanding contributions to world languages and cultures, she thanked the audience in two ways. What she called “the Icelandic way” consisted of a quoted passage from Njáls Saga concerning generosity among friends; “her way” comprised a “poetic event.” The […]

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Swedish Academy’s Nordic 2023 Prize Awarded to Icelandic Writer Sjón

sjón iceland author

The Swedish Academy’s 2023 Nordic Prize is awarded to Icelandic author Sjón for his significant contributions to Nordic literature.

The award, to be presented April 12, carries with it a prize of 400,000 SEK [$39,000; €36,000].

Read More: Sjón Withdraws from Iceland Noir Festival

The Swedish Academy works for the promotion of the Swedish language and literature through awards that recognize authors, translators, critics, researchers, teachers, and librarians. The Academy also promotes Nordic and international literature more generally through such prizes.

Known for his poetic and surreal style, Sjón’s best-recognized works include MoonstoneCoDex 1962The Blue Fox, and From the Mouth of the Whale. He has previously been awarded the 2005 Nordic Council Literature Prize, the 2013 Icelandic Literary Prize, among others. His works have been translated into more than 30 languages.

Cinema-goers may also recognize his recent contributions to Lamb, a psychological folk horror film directed by Valdimar Jóhansson, and The Northman, a gritty historical drama directed by Robert Eggers. He is also known for his collaboration with other high-profile artists, including the song text for Björk in the Lars von Trier film, Dancer in the Dark.

Other recent recipients of the literary prize include Karl Ove Knausgård (Norway) in 2019, Rosa Liksom (Finland) in 2020, Eldrid Lunden (Norway) in 2021, and Naja Marie Aidt (Denmark) in 2022.

Read more about the Swedish Academy’s Nordic Prize here.





Prime Minister’s Crime Thriller Number 1 Book in Iceland

reykjavík glæpasaga

According to bookseller Penninn Eymnundsson, Reykjavík: A Crime Thriller, was the best-selling book in Iceland in 2022. The book was co-authored by PM Katrín Jakobsdóttir and Ragnar Jónasson.

The book concerns the disappearance of a young girl, and the eventual unearthing of her disappearance some 30 years later by a young journalist. Set against the historical backdrop of the Reagan-Gorbachev meetings and Reykjavík’s 200th birthday, the book has been well received by both readers and critics.

The book was published this October, in anticipation of Iceland’s annual “Flood of Christmas Books,” and sold well right from the start.

Other successful books this year include Játning (Confession), by Ólaf Jóhann Ólafsson and Eden, by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir. Perennial best-sellers include the collected Icelandic sagas, in English translation, and Independent People, by Icelandic Nobel Prize winner Halldór Laxness, also in English translation.

Popular children’s books this year included works by Bjarni Fritzson, David Walliams, and Gunnar Helgason.

Read more about reading habits and literature in Iceland here.


anna moldnúpur

Already suffering from nausea in anticipation of a long voyage at sea, a middle-aged, red-headed Icelandic country woman with a modest suitcase nervously climbed a narrow gangplank in Reykjavik harbour to board the Brúarfoss, an Icelandic passenger and cargo ship. It was a bright, calm evening in mid-July 1946 and Anna – a weaver by […]

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Author Visits Promote Literary Engagement Among Students

A new program launched by the Icelandic Literature Center will send prominent authors to visit upper secondary schools to meet students and discuss their books with them. Per a press release issued by the Center, these author visits are intended to encourage students to read as well as increase their understanding of what a writer actually does.

Menntaskólinn við Hamrahlíð, Menntaskólinn við Sund, Tækniskólinn, and Kvennaskólinn í Reykjavík are the four upper secondary schools that will be taking part in the initiative this spring. Each school chose one author to visit their campus, namely: Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir, Kristín Helga Gunnarsdóttir, Guðrún Eva Mínervudóttir, and Sigríður Hagalín. Each author will hold a reading during their visit and then take part in a discussion with students. In preparation, students will read at least one pre-selected book by their guest so as to be able to ask questions and offer their own reflections on the text.

The initiative is a collaboration between the Icelandic Literature Center and both the Icelandic Writer’s Union and the Society of Icelandic Principals and is supported by a grant from the Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture.

If all goes well, four new schools will be chosen to take part in the author visit program for the coming fall semester and potentially even more schools in semesters after that.