Literary attractions

Discover Reykjavik's literary side by taking a literary walking tour through the heart of Reykjavik. Also, find bookshops, libraries and literary places of interest on our literary map.

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Explore our timeline

The timeline presents a broad overview of Icelandic literary history from the Saga age to the present.

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Events

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21
Dec
01.12.14 - 24.12.14
12:30 - 13:00

Nordic House Christmas Calendar

The Christmas calendar in the Nordic House in Reykjavik takes place daily in the festival hall in December until Christmas. Every day a new window will be opened, followed by…
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21
Dec
04.12.14 - 23.12.14
10:00 - 17:00

Icelandic Christmas Creatures

All the Christmas Creatures of Reykjavík City will be located at the Reykjavík Art Museum- Hafnarhús from 4 December. They have also found their dwellings in various places in the city…
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21
Dec
11:00 - 12:00

Yule with the Vikings

Mid-Winter Celebration A guided tour about how and why the Vikings celebrated the Yule in the age before Christianity.  This time of year the Vikings celebrated the winter solstice. Midwinter…
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23
Dec
11:00 - 12:00

Yule with the Vikings

Mid-Winter Celebration A guided tour about how and why the Vikings celebrated the Yule in the age before Christianity.  This time of year the Vikings celebrated the winter solstice. Midwinter…
more
24
Dec
11:00 - 12:00

Yule with the Vikings

Mid-Winter Celebration A guided tour about how and why the Vikings celebrated the Yule in the age before Christianity.  This time of year the Vikings celebrated the winter solstice. Midwinter…
more
25
Dec
21:00 - 21:30

Bedtime stories at Hotel Natura

The perfect way to spend a cozy evening and start your weekend in Iceland, these bedtime stories are free for guests to attend and presented in English by Icelandic actors.…
more
27
Dec
11:00 - 12:00

Yule with the Vikings

Mid-Winter Celebration A guided tour about how and why the Vikings celebrated the Yule in the age before Christianity.  This time of year the Vikings celebrated the winter solstice. Midwinter…
more
28
Dec
11:00 - 12:00

Yule with the Vikings

Mid-Winter Celebration A guided tour about how and why the Vikings celebrated the Yule in the age before Christianity.  This time of year the Vikings celebrated the winter solstice. Midwinter…
more
30
Dec
11:00 - 12:00

Yule with the Vikings

Mid-Winter Celebration A guided tour about how and why the Vikings celebrated the Yule in the age before Christianity.  This time of year the Vikings celebrated the winter solstice. Midwinter…
more
31
Dec
11:00 - 12:00

Yule with the Vikings

Mid-Winter Celebration A guided tour about how and why the Vikings celebrated the Yule in the age before Christianity.  This time of year the Vikings celebrated the winter solstice. Midwinter…
more
1
Jan
21:00 - 21:30

Bedtime stories at Hotel Natura

The perfect way to spend a cozy evening and start your weekend in Iceland, these bedtime stories are free for guests to attend and presented in English by Icelandic actors.…
more
8
Jan
21:00 - 21:30

Bedtime stories at Hotel Natura

The perfect way to spend a cozy evening and start your weekend in Iceland, these bedtime stories are free for guests to attend and presented in English by Icelandic actors.…
more
15
Jan
21:00 - 21:30

Bedtime stories at Hotel Natura

The perfect way to spend a cozy evening and start your weekend in Iceland, these bedtime stories are free for guests to attend and presented in English by Icelandic actors.…
more
22
Jan
21:00 - 21:30

Bedtime stories at Hotel Natura

The perfect way to spend a cozy evening and start your weekend in Iceland, these bedtime stories are free for guests to attend and presented in English by Icelandic actors.…
more
29
Jan
21:00 - 21:30

Bedtime stories at Hotel Natura

The perfect way to spend a cozy evening and start your weekend in Iceland, these bedtime stories are free for guests to attend and presented in English by Icelandic actors.…
more
5
Feb
21:00 - 21:30

Bedtime stories at Hotel Natura

The perfect way to spend a cozy evening and start your weekend in Iceland, these bedtime stories are free for guests to attend and presented in English by Icelandic actors.…
more
12
Feb
21:00 - 21:30

Bedtime stories at Hotel Natura

The perfect way to spend a cozy evening and start your weekend in Iceland, these bedtime stories are free for guests to attend and presented in English by Icelandic actors.…
more
19
Feb
21:00 - 21:30

Bedtime stories at Hotel Natura

The perfect way to spend a cozy evening and start your weekend in Iceland, these bedtime stories are free for guests to attend and presented in English by Icelandic actors.…
more
26
Feb
21:00 - 21:30

Bedtime stories at Hotel Natura

The perfect way to spend a cozy evening and start your weekend in Iceland, these bedtime stories are free for guests to attend and presented in English by Icelandic actors.…
more
5
Mar
21:00 - 21:30

Bedtime stories at Hotel Natura

The perfect way to spend a cozy evening and start your weekend in Iceland, these bedtime stories are free for guests to attend and presented in English by Icelandic actors.…
more
News: Tuesday, 16. December 2014

Reykjavik Writing Jam

Bragi Olafsson and Karen Finneyfrock

In October 2014, Reykjavik UNESCO City of Literature and Seattle City of Literature joined hands in a project connecting writers from Reykjavik and Seattle. Bragi Ólafsson and Karen Finneyfrock wrote character descriptions, then exchanged them and wrote a short story based on the character created by the other author. You can read the stories here.

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News: Wednesday, 3. December 2014

Reykjavik and Montréal Collaboration

Emile

The UNESCO Creative Cities, Reykjavik (a City of Literature) and Montréal (a City of Design) will see a creative project combining Icelandic narratives and Canadian design in the work of Montréal designer Émilie F. Grenier. Ms. Grenier is the 2014 recipient of the Phyllis Lambert Design Montréal Grant.

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Quotes

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right
HKL
Halldór Laxness

“Whoever doesn´t live in poetry cannot survive here on earth.”

Under the Glacie, 1968
HKL
Halldór Laxness

“It’s a pity we don’t whistle at one another, like birds. Words are misleading”

Under The Glacier
fridaasigurdar
Fríða Sigurðardóttir

“It was Martha who woke me up. This morning. Thinking about Katherine and her extraordinary trip, I had fallen asleep some time around dawn – a dreamless sleep.”

Night Watch 1990
peturgunnarsson[1]
Pétur Gunnarsson

“on earth´s part / all days start beautifully / patiently it revolves and revolves / with its trees / and oceans and lakes / deserts and volcanoes / the two of us and the rest of you / and all the animals”

 

Vigdís Grímsdóttir
Vigdís Grímsdóttir

“My imagination makes any journey without you a journey with you. Without my imagination I couldn’t go anywhere”

Z: A Love Story
matthiasjohannessen
Matthías Johannessen

“How strange the spring. I’m beginning to look forward

to waking at daybreak, looking out, inhaling

sky and earth, salt, and cool mountains”

"Happy Summer"
einarmargudmundsson[1]
Einar Már Gudmundsson

“I screamed and vanished into the depths of the soul where I encountered earlier planes of existence like birthdays from the past.”

Angels of the Universe, 1995
HKL
Halldór Laxness

“Flowers are immortal. You cut them in autumn and the grow again in spring somewhere.”

 

The Atom Station, 1948
einarmargudmundsson[1]
Einar Már Gudmundsson

“I trace the interest in genealogy in Iceland to the lack of trees. Because of the sparsity of trees, people opt for family trees and find themselves forests among their forebears … ”

Angles of the Universe

Videos

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Isla del sol / Sóley

Juan Camilo Román Estrada and Aðalsteinn Ásberg Sigurðsson perform Juan's ...

Hamingjumaður / Un hombre afortunado

Adalsteinn Ásberg Sigurdsson reads his poem Hamingjumadur and Juan Camilo ...

Mynd / Image

Icelandic writer Thórdís Björnsdóttir reads her poem Mynd and Irène ...

Writer Sjón talks to The Guardian

The Icelandic writer Sjón tells The Guardian about modern folk tales and more. ...

Small Island, Big Stories

An introductory film for Iceland's Guest of Honour appearance at the 2011 ...

Sleipnir and the Joy of Reading

The eight legged horse of Odinn, Sleipnir, from Norse mythology is Reykjavik ...

A Season of World Literature: Mazen Maarouf

A poetry reading with Palestinian poet Mazen Maarouf, Reykjavík's first ICORN ...

Writer Pétur Gunnarsson´s take on Reykjavík´s literary history

Writer Pétur Gunnarsson´s take on Reykjavík´s literary ...

A short video on literary Reykjavík

Overview of literary Reykjavík which has been designated a UNESCO City of ...

Literature.is

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Matthías Johannessen

matthiasjohannessen

Matthías Johannessen fæddist í Reykjavík 3. janúar 1930. Hann lauk Cand.-mag.-prófi í norrænum fræðum frá Háskóla Íslands árið 1955, með íslenskar bókmenntir sem aðalgrein. Hann lagði stund á almenna bókmenntasögu og leiklistarfræði í Kaupmannahöfn um tíma og rannsakaði m.a. verk Gríms Thomsen. Matthías starfaði lengst af við Morgunblaðið, fyrst sem blaðamaður frá 1951-1959 og síðan sem ritstjóri fram í ársbyrjun 2001 þegar hann lét af störfum. Matthías hefur á löngum ritferli sent frá sér ljóðabækur, leikrit, ritgerðir, viðtalsbækur og ævisögur, þýðingar, annast útgáfur og samið formála að ýmsum ritum, auk fjölbreytts efnis í blöðum og tímaritum. Matthías er þekktur fyrir samtöl sín við kunna sem og síður þekkta einstaklinga, m.a. […]

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Þórarinn Eldjárn

thorarinneldjarn[1]

Þórarinn Eldjárn was born in Reykjavík on August 22 1949. He studied literature and philosophy at the University of Lund in Sweden between 1969 and 1972, Icelandic at the University of Iceland 1972-1973, and completed a phil.cand. degree in literature at the University of Lund in 1975. Þórarinn lived in Stockholm from 1975 to 1979 and spent a year in Canterbury in 1988-1989. Since 1975 Þórarinn has worked as a writer and translator. He has published a number of poetry collections, short-story collections and novels as well a translating fiction for adults and children from English and the Scandinavian languages. Among them are novels by Göran Tunström, and Lewis Carroll’s […]

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Gyrdir Elíasson

gyrdireliasson[1]

Gyrdir Elíasson was born in Reykjavík on April 4, 1961. His family comes from the East fjords but he grew up in the town of Sauðárkrókur in Northern Iceland and went to both elementary school and college there. He lived for a while in the western part of the country, in Borgarnes and Akranes, but later in Reykjavík. Gyrðir has been a full time writer almost all his adult life, he has published a number of poetry books, novels and collections of short stories. He is one of Iceland’s most acclaimed writers of his generation. Hirst published book is the poetry collection Svarthvít axlabönd (Black-and-White Suspenders) from 1983. Gyrðir is also […]

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Thor Vilhjálmsson

thorvilhjalmsson[1]

Thor Vilhjálmsson was born in Edinburgh in Scotland on August 12, 1925. He completed highschool in 1944, studied at the nordic department of the University of Iceland in 1944-1946, at the University of Nottingham in 1946-1947 and at Sorbonne in Paris from 1947-1952. Thor was a librarian at the National Library of Iceland from 1953-1955 and worked for the National Theatre from 1956-1959, as well as working abroad as a guide. Thor has served in numerous capacities for writers and artists, he was a member of the board of The Writer’s Union of Iceland from 1972-1974, and the chairman of the Federation of Icelandic Artists from 1975-1981. He was on […]

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Einar Kárason

einarkarason[1]

Einar Kárason was born in Reykjavík on November 24, 1955. After finishing highschool in 1975, he studied literature at the University of Iceland until 1978. He did a variety of jobs with his studies, but since 1978 Einar has been a full time writer. He sat on the board of the Writer’s Union of Iceland from 1984 to 1986, was vice-chairman from 1986 to 1988 and chairman from 1988 to 1992. As chairman of the Writer’s Union, Einar sat on the boards of among others The Federation of Icelandic Artists and The Icelandic Association on Books. He has been one of the board members of the Reykjavík International Literary Festival […]

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Auður Jónsdóttir

audurjonsdottir[1]

Auður Jónsdóttir was born on March 30, 1973. She is a writer and freelance journalist and has published articles, essays and interviews in various journals and newspapers. Her first published work of fiction is the short story “Gifting” (Marriage), published in the literary magazine Andblær in 1997. Other short stories have appeared in magazines and collections since then. Auður’s first novel, Stjórnlaus lukka (Uncontrollable Luck, 1998), was nominated to the Icelandic Literature Prize in the same year. Since then, she has sent forward other novels as well as books for children and teenagers, among them a book about her grandfather, Halldór Laxness. Her novel Fólkið í kjallaranum (The People in […]

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Ólafur Gunnarsson

olafurgunnars[1]

Ólafur Gunnarsson was born in Reykjavík on July 18, 1948. He completed a commercial diploma from The Commercial College of Iceland in 1968. Ólafur worked for merchant Ásbjörn Ólafsson hf. from 1965-1971 and was the driver of the Reykjavík medical emergency from 1972-1978. Ólafur has worked as a writer since 1974. Poetry by Ólafur Gunnarsson had appeared in newspapers and magazines before his first novel, Milljón-prósent menn (Million-Percent Men), was published in 1978. He has published novels, short stories and children’s books as well as a travel story about his road trip with author (and co-author of the book) Einar Kárason in the U.S.A. in 2006. His novel, Tröllakirkja (Troll’s Cathedral, […]

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Vigdís Grímsdóttir

Vigdís Grímsdóttir

Vigdís Grímsdóttir was born in Reykjavík on August 15th 1953. She graduated from the Iceland University of Education with a Teaching Diploma in 1973, received a BA-degree in Icelandic Studies and Library and Information Science from the University of Iceland in 1978, and a degree in Education from the Iceland University of Education in 1982. She was a candidate of Icelandic literature at the University of Iceland 1984-85. Grímsdóttir worked as an elementary- and college teacher in Reykjavík and Hafnarfjörður until 1990 but has since then focused almost exclusively on writing. Her first book, the short story collection Tíu myndir úr lífi þínu (Ten Pictures from Your Life), appeared in […]

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Guðrún Helgadóttir

gudrunhelgadottir[1]

Guðrún Helgadóttir was born in Hafnarfjördur on September 7th, 1935 and grew up there as one of many siblings. She worked as a secretary at Reykjavík Higher Secondary Grammar School 1957-1970 and as department manager at the National Health and Insurance Office 1973-1980. Guðrún represented the People’s Alliance on Reykjavík City Council 1978-1982 and was a member of the Icelandic legislative assembly 1979-1995. She was Speaker of the Althing 1988-1991, the first woman to hold that position. Guðrún’s first book, Jón Oddur og Jón Bjarni (Jón Oddur and Jón Bjarni), appeared in 1974 and is the first of three about these scheming twin brothers. All have been republished numerous times and a film […]

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Steinunn Sigurðardóttir

steinunnsigurdar[1]

Steinunn Sigurðardóttir was born in Reykjavík in 1950. She finished her Matriculation Examination at the Reykjavík Higher Secondary Grammar School in 1968 and a BA in Psychology and Philosophy at the University College in Dublin in 1972. She published her first book, the poetry collection Sífellur (Continuances), 19 years old and received immediate attention. In 1995 she received the Icelandic Literature Prize for the novel Hjartastaður (Heart Place). Her books have been translated into other languages and a French movie based on the novel Tímaþjófurinn (The Thief of Time) premiered in 1999. Sigurðardóttir was a reporter at the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (RUV) and a news correspondent with intervals from 1970-1982. […]

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