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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29
May
17:00 - 18:30

WONDERWAGON – an old concert bus visiting Reykjavík art scene

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen. We welcome you on board an old concert hall on wheels dressed with chandeliers and a grand piano. We will travel into the wonders of Reykjavík…
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News: Thursday, 21. May 2015

International Cultural Diversity Day, Thursday 21 May

Café Lingua story-telling

On International Cultural Diversity Day, Thursday 21 May, Reykjavík City Library and Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature will play its part in highlighting the wealth of languages and voices among the city’s inhabitants in an entertaining programme of events all day long in the City Library at Grófin.

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News: Friday, 15. May 2015

Multilingual Writing Workshop

©Angela Rawlings

Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature organized a multilingual writing workshop for women that took place over a period of five months in 2015. Women of Icelandic and foreign origin living in Iceland came together to create literary texts. Angela Rawlings designed and facilitated the workshop.

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Quotes

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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
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
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
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"
HKL
Halldór Laxness

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

 

The Atom Station, 1948
HKL
Halldór Laxness

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

Under the Glacie, 1968
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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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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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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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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Gerdur Kristný

gerdurkristny[1]

Gerdur Kristný was born on June 10, 1970 and brought up in Reykjavík. She graduated in French and comparative literature from the University of Iceland in 1992. Her B.A. dissertation was on Baudelaire’s Les fleurs du mal. After a course in media studies at the University of Iceland from 1992-1993 she trained at Denmark’s Radio TV. She was editor of the magazine Mannlíf from 1998 – 2004, but is now a full time writer. Gerður Kristný has published poetry books, short stories, novels and books for children, as well as a book about the Westman Islands Festival in 2002 and the biography Myndin af pabba – saga Thelmu (A Portrait […]

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Hallgrímur Helgason

hallgrimurhelga[1]

Hallgrímur Helgason was born on February 18th 1959 in Reykjavík. He studied at the Art Academy of Iceland from 1979-1980, and at the Art Academy of Munich from 1981-1982. Since then, he has worked as both an artist and writer. His first novel, Hella, was published in 1990, followed by several others, as well as one collection of poetry. His novel 101 Reykjavik (1996) drew immediate attention and was subsequently translated throughout Scandinavia, Europe, and England. In 1999 it was nominated for the Nordic Council´s Literary Award. A movie of the book, directed by Baltasar Kormákur, one of Iceland´s leading film makers, was produced in 2000 and released worldwide. Baltasar […]

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Bragi Ólafsson

bragiolafsson[1]

Bragi Ólafsson was born in Reykjavík on August 11, 1962. He studied Spanish at the University of Iceland for one year, and at the University of Granada in Spain 1985 – 1986. He has done a number of jobs in Reykjavík, at the post office, in a bank and a record store and was a member of different music bands for a number of years. One of them was the Sugarcubes, and Bragi toured with them in Europe and America. Bragi’s first published work, the poetry collection Dragsúgur (Draught), appeared in 1986. Since then, he has published other books of poetry, short story collections, plays and novels. His first novel, […]

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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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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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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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Einar Már Gudmundsson

einarmargudmundsson[1]

Einar Már Gudmundsson was born in Reykjavík on September 18th 1954. He received a B.A. in Comparative Literature and History from the University of Iceland in 1979 after which he moved to Copenhagen to do graduate work in Comparative Literature at the University of Copenhagen. Einar’s first book, the collection of poetry Er nokkur í kórónafötum hér inni? (Is Anyone Here Wearing the Korona Line?), appeared in 1980. In 1985 he received first prize in a literary competition held by Almenna Bókafélagið, Book Publishers and Book Club, for the novel Riddarar Hringstigans (The Knights of the Spiral Staircase). His books have been translated into several languages and the widely acclaimed novel […]

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