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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News: Wednesday, 1. April 2015

Nominations for Nordic Children’s Literature Prize

Norrænu barnabókaverðlaun

The Nordic Council awards literature for children and young people annually. Nominations for the 2015 Prize were announced at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair on April 1st. Fourteen books are nominated, two from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden and one from Åland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and the Sami language area.

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News: Friday, 20. March 2015

Settlement Sagas

Icelandic manuscripts

Settlement Sagas is a new exhibition at the premises of Reykjavik City Museum’s Settlement Exhibition in Aðalstræti 16. This exhibition, which opened in March 2015, displays ancient Icelandic manuscripts that tell the story of the first settlers in Iceland. They are among the nation’s most valuable artefacts.

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Quotes

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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"
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
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
HKL
Halldór Laxness

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

Under the Glacie, 1968
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
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 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
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”

 

HKL
Halldór Laxness

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

Under The Glacier

Videos

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Light Seeps In – Poetry Night

Poets Anton Helgi Jónsson, Elías Knörr (aka Elías Portela) and Mary ...

Dear Iceland – A Poetic Letter from Edmonton

Edmonton Poet Laureate, Mary Pinkoski, visited Reykjavik for the 2015 Winter ...

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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Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir

audurolafsdottir[1]

Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir was born in Reykjavík in 1958. She is a lecturer of art history and -theory at the University of Iceland and has also taught art history elsewhere. For some time she was the director of the University of Iceland’s Art Museum. Auður Ava has also been a curator and has written about art and art theory in newspapers and magazines. Aður Ava’s first published work of fiction was the novel Upphækkuð jörð (Elevetated Ground) in 1998. Her second novel, Rigning í nóvember (Rain in November) came out in 2004, followed by Afleggjarinn (Rosa Candida) in 2007. Auður sent forward her first book of poetry, Sálmurinn um glimmer (Hymn on […]

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Svava Jakobsdóttir

svavajakobs[1]

Svava Jakobsdóttir was born on October 4, 1930 in the small town of Neskaupstaður. She graduated from highschool in 1949 and completed a B.A. degree in English and American literature at Smith College in Northhampton in Massachusetts in 1952. Svava was a graduate student in Old Norse literature at Somerville College in Oxford, England, from 1952-1953, and studied Sweedish modern literature at Uppsala University in Sweeden from 1965-1966. Svava worked for the Icelandic Foreign Ministry and in the Stockholm Embassy from 1955 to 1964. She was a journalist for Lesbók Morgunblaðsins 1966-1969 and worked in the department of broadcasting at the National Radio (RÚV) in 1969-1970. Svava was a member […]

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Pétur Gunnarsson

peturgunnarsson[1]

Pétur Gunnarsson was born in Reykjavík on June 15, 1947. He received his Masters degree (maitrise) in phylosophy from Université d’Aix-Marsaille in France in 1975. In his career as a writer, Pétur has taken part in numerous cooperative projects. In 1977 he wrote the play Grænjaxlar for The National Theatre of Iceland along with the actors and the music group Spilverk þjóðanna. He wrote the lyrics for the LP Lög unga fólksins, also in 1977 and the play Krókmakarabærinn in the same year in cooperation with the Icelandic Drama School. Pétur has also done work for radio and television, for instance he wrote the script for a documentary on Halldór […]

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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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Þorsteinn frá Hamri

thorsteinnfrahamri[1]

Þorsteinn (Jónsson) frá Hamri (from Hamar) was born on March 15, 1938 on the farm Hamar in Þverárhlíð in Borgarfjörður. He completed his primary education at Reykholtsskóli in 1954 and studied at Iceland’s Teacher Training College during the years of 1955-1957. Þorsteinn worked as an assistant librarian at Kópavogur Library between 1961-1967, but since then he has devoted his time to writing. He has also scripted radio programs, read proofs, and translated a number of books. Þorsteinn was the secretary of the board of The Icelandic Writer’s Associsation from 1966-1968 and a vice member of the board of The Writer’s Union of Iceland 1984-1986. He was also a member of […]

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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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Sigurður A. Magnússon

sigurduramagnusson[1]

Sigurður A. Magnússon was born on March 31, 1928 at Móar in Kjalarnes near Reykjavík. He graduated from highschool in 1948 and then went on to study theology, Greek and religious history at the University of Iceland untill 1950. In 1950 Sigurður went to Copenhagen to study theology and literature at the University of Copenhagen for a year. He studied history and literature at the University of Athens untill 1952. After that Sigurður moved to Sweden where he studied literature at the University of Stockholm. He completed a B.A. degree in comparative literature at The New School for Social Research in New York in 1955. Sigurður was a teacher at […]

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Fríða Sigurðardóttir

fridaasigurdar

Fríða (Áslaug) Sigurðardóttir was born on December 11, 1940 on the farm Hesteyri in Hornstrandir in the Westfjords of Iceland. She graduated with a Cand. Mag. degree in Icelandic language and literature from the University of Iceland in 1979. She worked as a librarian at the University Library and the American Library in Reykjavik from 1964 – 1970, worked at the faculty of humanities at The University of Iceland from 1971 – 1973, and was a sessional teacher at the University and The Iceland College of Education from 1973 – 1975. After 1978, Fríða dedicated her time to writing. Fríða Á. Sigurðardóttir’s first work was the short story collection Þetta er […]

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Ævar Örn Jósepsson

aevarorn[1]

Ævar Örn Jósepsson was born in Hafnarfjörður on August 25, 1963. He is the youngest of four siblings. He lived in the Reykjavík suburb of Garðabær for the first two years of his life (and claims to have escaped from there without permanent harm), then in Hafnarfjörður, but moved to the countryside, close to the town of Akranes, when he was 16 (he was bribed with a dog). He finished higschool in Akranes in 1983, having been an exchange student in Belgium from 1981-1982. Ævar Örn studied journalism, political science and philosophy at the University of Sterling in Scotland from 1986-1987, and graduated as Magister Artium of philosophy and English […]

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Ingibjörg Haraldsdóttir

ingibjorgharalds[1]

Ingibjörg Haraldsdóttir was born in Reykjavík on October 21st 1942, and grew up there. She graduated with a Mag. Art degree in film studies from Moskow School of Film in 1969. From 1970 – 1975 she worked as Assistant Director at Teatro Estudio in Havana, Cuba. While living in the Soviet Union and on Cuba, she wrote and translated articles for Icelandic newspapers. Ingibjörg moved back to Iceland in 1975 and worked as a journalist and film critiq for Þjóðviljinn newspaper for a number of years. Since 1981 Ingibjörg has been a full time poet and translator. Her first collection of poetry, Þangað vil ég fjúga (I Want to Fly There), […]

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