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.”

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.

Prime Minister Pens Crime Novel with Ragnar Jónasson

Best-selling author Ragnar Jónasson and Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir have co-authored a crime novel together, RÚV reports. The book will be called Reykjavík.

This may seem an unlikely detour for the Prime Minister, but Katrín actually wrote her undergraduate thesis on Icelandic crime novels. She and Ragnar have, moreover, been planning their collaboration for some time. Two years ago, Katrín mentioned that the pair would be co-authoring a book together, but COVID scuppered those plans—at least temporarily. A year ago, however, Ragnar confirmed that they’d started writing.

Reykjavík is set in 1986 and deals with the disappearance of a young girl named Lára Marteinsdóttir from Víðey, a small island located in Kollafjörður Bay just off the capital’s coastline, some 30 years previous. For decades, Lára’s disappearance has weighed heavily on the Icelandic nation, but no concrete explanation of her disappearance has ever been furnished. That is, until a young reporter starts digging into the cold case with startling consequences.

“In this story, Katrín Jakobsdóttir and I are going to invite readers on a journey back to the summer when Reykjavík celebrated its 200th birthday, when Bylgjan and Stöð 2 [Iceland’s first privately-owned radio and TV stations] first started broadcasting, and Reagan and Gorbachev’s Reykjavík Summit was just around the corner,” wrote Ragnar in a Facebook post about the book on Friday. “And that summer is also when unexpected clues about Lára’s fate come to light.”

Reykjavík is set to be released in Iceland on October 25.

Scott Free Options Rights to Jónasson’s Thriller “Outside”

Ragnar Jónasson

The production company Scott Free has optioned the rights to writer Ragnar Jónason’s latest thriller Outside. Danish director Henrik Hansen is in talks to direct the feature film.

Optioned for feature adaptation

The independent film and television production company Scott Free has optioned the rights to the thriller Outside from Icelandic author Ragnar Jónasson for feature adaptation. The book relates the story of four friends who seek refuge from a lethal Icelandic snowstorm in an abandoned hunting lodge – but “nothing can prepare them for what’s inside.”

As reported by RÚV, publisher Bjartur and Veröld released a press statement yesterday saying that Scott Free would be collaborating with the Icelandic production company True North on the project. Talks are underway with Danish director Henrik Hansen.

Outside was published last year and will be released in English translation in the UK and the US this spring. The widely-acclaimed thriller will subsequently be made available in other languages. Ragnar Jónasson has sold more than three million copies of his books in thirty-six countries.

English director Ridley Scott founded Scott Free with his late brother Tony Scott in 1970. Ridley Scott ranks among Hollywood’s most renowned directors, having directed films such as Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator, and Thelma & Louise. Scott has received numerous awards.

Crime Novelist Ragnar Jónasson Tops Bestseller List in Germany

Ragnar Jónasson

Mistur (German title Nebel; English title The Mist) by Icelandic crime novelist Ragnar Jónasson is currently #1 on Der Spiegel‘s bestseller list in Germany. This is the first time that an Icelandic author has topped this list.

Mistur is the final instalment in Ragnar’s trilogy starring policewoman Hulda Hermannsdóttir. In a somewhat unconventional move, German publisher btb Verlag released all three books in the trilogy—Dimma (German title Dunkel; English titleThe Darkness), Drungi (German title Insel; English title The Island), and Mistur—in rapid succession this year. The first and second instalments came out in May and July respectively. This seems to have been a good bet: Dimma reached number two on Der Spiegel‘s list and all three books were ranked in the top ten last week, a relatively unheard-of coup.

Ragnar’s books have sold close to 1.5 million copies worldwide and been published in 27 languages in 40 countries. He can easily claim to be one of Europe’s most popular authors right now and is on track to becoming a household name in the US, too. American TV giant CBS is in the process of turning The Darkness into an eight-part series, which will be produced in Iceland with support from Truenorth Productions, which recently coproduced Netflix’s first original Icelandic series, The Valhalla Murders.

Series Adaptation of Ragnar Jónasson’s The Darkness Slated for Production in Iceland

Ragnar Jónasson

CBS Studios announced yesterday that their first project with the recently launched Stampede Ventures International, whose mission is to source, acquire and develop premium scripted content for the international market, will be an eight-episode series adaptation of Ragnar Jónasson’s best-selling book The Darkness, from his Hulda series of crime novels. The series is targeted for production in Iceland and Truenorth Productions, who recently produced “The Valhalla Murders” for Netflix are also a part of the project.

According to the press release, ““The Darkness” is an eight-episode, one-hour crime drama set in Iceland that centres around Hulda Hermannsdottir, a detective who is bracing for retirement by year’s end but is blindsided when she’s told she has two weeks to clean up her desk and start her “new life” months earlier than expected. To fill her remaining time, she’s given a cold case to keep busy – reviewing the files about a young Russian woman who washed up on a remote Icelandic beach. A quiet death in a watery grave to which no one paid any mind. Hulda will begin to question those closest to her, no matter the cost.” The book has been a hit in several countries, topping bestseller lists for weeks at a time in Germany and France and doing well in the UK and US as well.

Ragnar Jónasson’s books have been published in 27 languages in 40 countries and sold about a million and a half copies worldwide but this is the first time one of his works receives a live-action adaption. He says he’s thrilled about the news and not scared in the least to let others adapt his work. “I sold the rights to Stampede a year or two ago so this has been out of my hands for a while. I don’t know the details but it’s an exciting project and set to be produced in Iceland. ” The casting will be a surprise to him as well but he says he’s never pictured Hulda as a specific actress. “I’ve written her at different periods in her life so I don’t have a specific face in mind.” He’s happy for the fans of Icelandic thrillers and the Nordic noir genre all over the world. “Its popularity doesn’t seem to be waning in the least, despite what some people have predicted,” Ragnar says.

Ragnar’s latest book will be published in Iceland in October and is not a part of the Hulda series but the Dark Iceland series. Readers in other countries won’t have to wait long as the book is already out in French under the title Sigló and will be out in the UK later this year as Winterkill.

In addition to Ragnar’s successful career as a thriller writer of more than a dozen novels, he also holds down a day job in Arion bank’s corporate finance division. He says it isn’t hard at all to have two separate careers. “I enjoy going to work, I work with a fun group of people. But I often get plenty busy with writing at night.”