Authors Boycott Iceland Noir Over Clinton’s Involvement

icelandic true crime

Approximately 60 authors will be boycotting the Iceland Noir literary festival over guest of honour Hillary Clinton, citing her stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The authors’ letter condemns Clinton’s actions and the festival’s perceived political alignment.

“Publicly opposed to a ceasefire”

Approximately 60 authors have decided to boycott the Iceland Noir literary festival and encourage others to do the same. The reason behind the boycott is the participation of Hillary Rodham Clinton in the festival as a guest of honour. Among the authors that are boycotting the festival are Hallgrímur Helgason, Guðrún Eva Mínervudóttir, Bragi Ólafsson, Kristín Ómarsdóttir, Kristín Eiríksdóttir, and Pedro Gunnlaugur Garcia.

Read More: IR speaks to Pedro Gunnlaugur Garcia

“Hillary Clinton publicly opposes a ceasefire in the ongoing genocide by the Israeli army in Palestine. For years, she has also used her broad platform to spread the propaganda of the Israeli government and false information, causing harm to the Palestinian people,” an open letter signed by the authors reads.

“By inviting her, the Iceland Noir festival took a stand, and by standing by that invitation, the festival underscored its political stance, associated with war crimes and genocide,” the statement continues. “When children are fighting, one child murdered every ten minutes, there is no time to exchange views or engage in debate. Only the stance itself matters and therefore we urge you to:

  • Take a clear stand against war crimes and genocide.
  • Refrain from participating in the whitewashing of the Israeli government and its supporters.
  • Not undermine the human rights struggle of the Palestinian people.
  • Support a free Palestine!

The statement notes that the boycott is a peaceful method aimed at expressing moral and political disapproval of the actions of individuals or institutions that harm others. It is not intended as a personal attack on the organisers or sponsors of the festival.

Intended to be a “non-political” festival

In an interview with Vísir yesterday, writer Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, who organises the event alongside Ragnar Jónasson, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, and Sverrir Norland, expressed regret and understanding in the face of the boycott:

“We decided that this would be a great opportunity to invite Hillary, who is remarkable but not without controversy. So we decided to hold this special event. She is not actually at the festival itself; this is a separate event. But it’s terrible. We are completely sorry that our initiative to hold a literary festival is being dragged into conflicts that we all, of course, want to see de-escalated immediately,” Yrsa observed.

She fully understands the stance of those who protest.

“One understands that people want to do something. But I’m not sure if our small initiative is the venue to change anything in these matters. But maybe not everyone agrees on that,” she remarked. “This is supposed to be a non-political festival. And I think that most of those who participate disagree with her [Clinton] about the ceasefire, and so do the ticket holders. We don’t ask people about their politics when we are selecting participants for the festival.”

Creating a Brand: 101 Reykjavík

101 Reykjavík by Hallgrímur Helgason, originally published in Iceland in 1996 and the English-language market in 2002, was recently republished in Germany, where Iceland will be the guest of honor at the 2011 Frankfurt Book Fair.

As I had never read this modern Icelandic classic, I thought this would be a good opportunity to do so. My expectations were rather high as I’ve heard people rave about this book ever since its publication.

Helgason’s novel became an instant hit on the domestic market and an international hit after the film 101 Reykjavík, which is based on the book, was released in 2000 and helped raise the book’s profile.

The film’s popularity changed 101 Reykjavík from simply being a postcode to being a brand, helped promote the “wild” Icelandic nightlife and turn the city center into a desirable place for international bohemians.

However, the 101 Reykjavík Helgason describes in his book is anything but a desirable place to live. To me, at least.

It is the place where the main character, unemployed thirty-something loser Hlynur, thrives. He lives with his mother, who is a lesbian, and spends his days channel surfing, watching porn, jerking off, chatting on the internet and hanging around in bars.

Hlynur is as uninteresting as a person could be, unfit for being the central focus of a novel, were it not for the crazy situations he gets caught up in and his absurdly humorous train of thought.

To see the world through Hlynur’s eyes is an extraordinary experience, although it gets tiring after a while. He is such an unsympathetic and offensive guy that I sometimes had to put the book down and take a deep breath before continuing.

Hlynur has a way with words, constantly coming up with witty word games which he recites to himself in his mind or to the people around him to the amusement of readers.

But his blabbering goes on and on and at times I just wanted to shut him up. It is also a little too graphic—or pornographic—for my taste.

It may not come as a surprise that Hlynur doesn’t handle human relations very well. Especially not when it comes to women.

He has the annoying habit of rating every woman he sees, placing a price tag on her according to how much he would pay for sleeping with her.

Correction: for having sex with her. Hlynur never sleeps with women.

Because of his anti-social behavior, Hlynur doesn’t get laid much, which could be why sex is all he thinks about.

In his book, Helgason describes modern Icelandic society, albeit a rather exaggerated version of it, in a critical, straight-to-the-point, black-humor kind of way.

He brings a generation to the spotlight which has never been in want of anything and is content with existing in an extended teenage-hood, not contributing to society in any way, just being careless, spending the nights partying and the days lying around.

However, the book is unnecessarily long and long-winded at times and I actually prefer the movie version, where Helgason and the director, Baltasar Kormákur, cut out the bits of the story that were too long, left out a few characters that didn’t add much to the plot and introduced new interesting twists.

Usually I prefer books over movies and recommend that people read the books before seeing the filmed versions of them, but in this case I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that.

However, it should not be forgotten that without the book there wouldn’t have been a movie; Helgason created Hlynur and his story and deserves praise for that.

The book is available on amazon.com.

Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir