Rán Flygenring’s Eruption Book Wins Nordic Council Prize

Rán Flygenring Nordic Council Prize pic by Magnus Fröderberg, norden.org.

Icelandic author and illustrator Rán Flygenring has won the 2023 Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize for her picture book Eldgos (Volcanic Eruption, not available in English). Flygenring was awarded the prize at a ceremony in Oslo earlier this week. The jury called Eldgos an “explosively visual picture book about how wild and uncontrollable nature affects humans.”

In its rationale, the award jury wrote that Rán “skilfully weave[s] image and text into a playfully humorous story about a motley crowd of tourists that encounters a volcanic eruption. The story bursts with power, both capturing and propelling our fascination with extreme natural phenomena. Yet it also touches on conflicting emotions that arise as the land collapses, lava flows, and new mountains emerge, as well as the emotions connected to more mundane matters such as a lice epidemic or seeing your surroundings being flooded with tourists.” The jury also praised Rán’s illustrations for their “subtle details that will capture the attention of young readers.”

The Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize has been awarded since 2013 in order to promote children’s and youth literature in the Nordic region. A total of 14 Nordic picture books, children’s books, and youth novels received nominations for this year’s prize.

Elfa Rún Kristinsdóttir and Sigur Rós Nominated for 2023 Nordic Council Music Prize

nordic council music prize 2023

Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós and violinist Elfa Rút Kristinsdóttir are among the 13 artists, groups, and ensembles nominated for the 2023 Nordic Council Music Prize.

Representing a broad selection across the Nordic region, entrants this year include jazz musicians, contemporary classical, folk, and more. The prize will be awarded on October 31 in Oslo.

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According to the panel, “Icelandic violinist Elfa Rún Kristinsdóttir has become known for her expressive and musical virtuosity, where she succinctly combines masterful craft and technique with a natural, vital and beautiful tone. ” Elfa studied music in Freiburg and Leipzig and first came to prominence in 2006 at the International Bach Competition in Leipzig. Since then, she has performed as both a solo artist and a member of several ensembles. Her repertoire includes everything from the Baroque to contemporary classical compositions.

Sigur Rós, one of Iceland’s best-known bands, was formed in 1994 and has since redefined modern rock music by incorporating elements of classical and ambient music into their post-rock sound. According to the panel, “Sigur Rós’s continued relevance stems from a stubborn refusal to rest on its laurels as seen in its interdisciplinary work with artists, choreographers, filmmakers, and Icelandic rímur singers, to name but a few. Sigur Rós is especially renowned for its live shows, described by fans and reviewers as a transcending, almost religious-like experience.”


Every year, the Nordic Council awards five prizes in the fields of literature, film music, environmental activism, and children and youth culture.

The prize is intended to support cultural cooperation in the Nordic region by recognising pioneering artists. In addition to the nations Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland, the territories of Åland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands are also recognised.

The Icelandic nominees for 2022 included Bára Gísladóttir and Sóley Stefánsdóttir. The 2022 award went to Swedish composer Karin Rehnqvist. The prize is awarded on alternate years to an ensemble or artist in one year and to a work by a living composer the next year.

Winners of the Nordic Council Prize receive the “Nordlys” statuette and DKK 300,000 [$43,000; €40,000].

Read the full list of nominees here.


Icelandic Film, Lamb, Wins 2022 Nordic Council Film Prize

icelandic film lamb

The 2022 Nordic Council Film Prize, awarded in Helsinki yesterday evening, Tuesday, November 1, has been awarded to the recent Icelandic film, Lamb. Directed by Valdimar Jóhannsson and co-written with notable Icelandic author, Sjón, the folk horror film was described as “a unique story of loss, grief, and fear.”

Hrönn Krisinsdóttir and Sara Nassim were also honoured in their role as producers, with the DKK 300,00 (USD 39,900, EUR 40,300) prize money split evenly between the recipients, reflecting the co-operative nature of filmmaking.

Also present at the ceremony was Finnish PM Sanna Marin, who awarded the prize.

Lamb, starring Noomi Rapace and Hilmir Snær Guðnason, revolves around a farming couple who live in a remote region of Iceland. Supernatural events influence their relationship when one of their sheep gives birth to a human-sheep hybrid.

The film, originally called Dýrið in Icelandic, has already garnered recognition, premiering in the Cannes film festival’s Un Certain Regard section, and taking home the Icelandic Edda award, the official award ceremony for the Icelandic film industry.

The Nordic Council awards five prizes each year for literature, film, music, environmental activism, and youth literature. 

Other recipients of the 2022 prize include Swedish composer Karin Rehnqvist for her work “Silent Earth,” the Norwegian graphic novelist Nora Dåsnes for her work “Ubesvart anrop,” an account of the 2011 terror attacks in Norway, and also the city of Mariehamn in Åland, for its environmental work in preserving its wetlands.

Sóley and Bára Nominated for Nordic Council Music Prize

Sóley Stefánsdóttir musician

Icelandic musicians Sóley Stefánsdóttir (above) and Bára Gísladóttir (below) have been nominated for the 2022 Nordic Council Music Prize. This year’s nominees represent a wide range of genres from world music and opera to electronic music.

Sóley has been nominated for her 2021 album Mother Melancholia. In their rationale, the jury describes the album as “a work of the utmost originality, in reality one long meditation on the state of the world, gravitating between pretty and horrific.”

In an interview with Iceland Review Sóley described Mother Melancholia as being about apocalypse. “We can’t really imagine what happens at the end of the world. It’s an abstract idea. Especially when you live here in Iceland and have your house and your computer and your day-to-day life. I’ve been reading some dystopian Margret Atwood novels and thinking ‘wow, maybe it’ll be like this.’ Maybe that’s the role of artists: to create, draw, paint, try to imagine it.”

Photo: Gabrielle Motola. Bára Gísladóttir.

Bára Gísladóttir is a double bassist and composer based in Copenhagen, Denmark. She was nominated for her piece VÍDDIR, written for nine flutes, percussion, double bass, and electric bass. The Nordic Council Music Prize jury called her compositions “highly creative and uncompromising,” calling VÍDDIR an “enthralling” work where Bára “shapes the sounds and structure of the music in an organic way with focus on textural and timbral progressions through various portals of possibilities of the instruments.”

The winner of the Nordic Council Music Prize will be announced on November 1 in Helsinki, Finland.

Alma Nominated for Nordic Council Film Prize

Icelandic film Alma, written and directed by Kristín Jóhannesdóttir, is Iceland’s nominee for the 2021 Nordic Council Film Prize. The award is accompanied by a prize of DKK 300,000 [ISK 5.9 million; $47,471] to be split equally among the screenwriter, director, and producer, and is given annually to a film from one of the five Nordic nations. The winner will be announced in an awards ceremony in Copenhagen on November 2.

Per the Icelandic Film Centre, Alma is “the story of a young woman who is serving time in a psych ward for murdering her boyfriend, a crime she can’t remember. But when she discovers [he] is still alive, she decides to escape and kill him after all.”

Rather than repeating typical tropes, however, the Icelandic selection committee noted that Alma allows its protagonist space for growth and healing. As they wrote in their nomination, “What starts out as a noirish revenge fable becomes a beautiful love story that centers around the process through which a victim of abuse finds her way through trauma and grief to finally rediscover her roots and her distinctive voice.”

“Employing biting humor as well as striking visual imagery, Alma deftly combines an intense poetic vision and a socially critical feminist angle.”

Alma is Kristín Jóhannesdóttir’s third feature (Rainbow’s End and As in Heaven) and was produced by Gudrún Edda Thórhannesdóttir, Fridrik Thór Fridriksson, and Egil Ødegård. It stars Snæfrídur Ingvarsdóttir, Kristbjörg Kjeld, Emmanuelle Riva, and Hilmir Snær Gudnason.

Iceland has won the Nordic Council Film Prize three times since it started being awarded in 2002. Director Benedikt Erlingsson has won twice, for Of Horses and Men in 2014 and Woman at War in 2018, and Dagur Kári won for Virgin Mountain in 2015.

Bíó Paradís will be showing all of this year’s nominated films during its Nordic Film Festival, which will run from September 23 – 26. All of the films will be shown with English subtitles.

Gyða Valtýsdóttir Wins Nordic Council Music Prize

Icelandic musician Gyða Valtýsdóttir has won the Nordic Council Music Prize. The prize was awarded by conductor and former winner of the prize Susanna Mälkki at an awards ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall, which was broadcast live yesterday evening.

Gyða entered the spotlight in the late 90s as a member of experimental pop group múm. She later left the band to study classical cello and has since built a diverse and vibrant solo career as a performer and composer.

“Gyða’s music and performance is highly unique and captivating, demonstrating a special sense of phrasing and timing,” the statement from the jury reads. “Gyða crosses and bridges the gap between musical genres in a unique way, not least by dismissing any notion of their differences. Whether performing her own music or the music of others she brings her personal originality to the music through her instrumental inventiveness.”

In an interview with Iceland Review, Gyða stated “I think we all have multiple personalities and that’s a good thing. And instead of trying to put it all together and say ‘This is who I am’ because that’s the loudest voice and the other ones are quieter, you can allow yourself to have different sides and nurture all of them, even if they’re very contradictory.”

The Nordic Council Music Prize is awarded on alternate years to a work by a living composer in one year and to an ensemble or artist the next. The prize is open to artists from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and the Åland Islands.