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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5
Jul
17:00 - 18:00

Book Presentation Icelandic Mandalas

Presentation of the coloring book Mandalas of Iceland at Sunday at 5 pm. Icelandic Mandalas is a coloring book by the Tibetan artist Kunsang Dhondupsson. The event will take place…
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9
Jul
15:00 - 16:30

Literary walking tour at 3 pm

The Reykjavík City Library hosts free literary walking tours in downtown Reykjavík every Thursday in June, July and August at 3 pm. The walks start from the library's main branch…
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16
Jul
15:00 - 16:30

Literary walking tour at 3 pm

The Reykjavík City Library hosts free literary walking tours in downtown Reykjavík every Thursday in June, July and August at 3 pm. The walks start from the library's main branch…
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16
Jul
21:00 - 21:00

Poetry Film

Poetry Film Screening at Mengi A screening of short poetry films curated by British artist Zata Banks. Zata Banks will introduce a curated selection of film artworks, chosen for their…
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23
Jul
15:00 - 16:30

Literary walking tour at 3 pm

The Reykjavík City Library hosts free literary walking tours in downtown Reykjavík every Thursday in June, July and August at 3 pm. The walks start from the library's main branch…
more
26
Jul
20:00 - 21:00

Shut up & Write

The Reykjavík poetry collective Meðgönguljóð (Partus Press) invites young writers to an open writing session at Loft Hostel in downtown Reykjavík this summer. Shut Up & Write brings together writers…
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30
Jul
15:00 - 16:30

Literary walking tour at 3 pm

The Reykjavík City Library hosts free literary walking tours in downtown Reykjavík every Thursday in June, July and August at 3 pm. The walks start from the library's main branch…
more
6
Aug
15:00 - 16:30

Literary walking tour at 3 pm

The Reykjavík City Library hosts free literary walking tours in downtown Reykjavík every Thursday in June, July and August at 3 pm. The walks start from the library's main branch…
more
13
Aug
15:00 - 16:30

Literary walking tour at 3 pm

The Reykjavík City Library hosts free literary walking tours in downtown Reykjavík every Thursday in June, July and August at 3 pm. The walks start from the library's main branch…
more
20
Aug
15:00 - 16:30

Literary walking tour at 3 pm

The Reykjavík City Library hosts free literary walking tours in downtown Reykjavík every Thursday in June, July and August at 3 pm. The walks start from the library's main branch…
more
27
Aug
15:00 - 16:30

Literary walking tour at 3 pm

The Reykjavík City Library hosts free literary walking tours in downtown Reykjavík every Thursday in June, July and August at 3 pm. The walks start from the library's main branch…
more
30
Aug
20:00 - 21:00

Shut up & write

The Reykjavík poetry collective Meðgönguljóð (Partus Press) invites young writers to an open writing session at Loft Hostel in downtown Reykjavík this summer. Shut Up & Write brings together writers…
more
News: Friday, 19. June 2015

Literary Retreats with readings by Icelandic women writers

Literary Retreat at Austurvöllur Squere Reykjavik

Today, on June 19th 2015, Iceland celebrates the centennial of women’s rights to vote. The City of Reykjavík celebrates in various ways throughout the year, with exhibitions, projects and events run by several City institutions. Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature takes part in these celebrations with different projects, also taking place throughout the year. Today, we put up two new city benches with readings from prose and poetry by Icelandic women writers.

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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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Quotes

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right
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
HKL
Halldór Laxness

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

 

The Atom Station, 1948
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"
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 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
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 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

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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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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Sjón

sjon[1]

Sjón (Sigurjón B. Sigurðsson) was born in Reykjavik on the 27th of August, 1962. He started his writing career early, publishing his first book of poetry, Sýnir (Visions), in 1978. Sjón was a founding member of the surrealist group, Medúsa, and soon became significant in Reykjavik´s cultural landscape. Sjón has published many poetry collections, a number of novels, plays for theatre, librettos and material for children. In addition to his writing career, he has participated in art exhibitions and musical events of all kinds. He has collaborated with many other artists as well, most notably Björk, with whom he has composed music, conceived music videos, and written texts for songs, including […]

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Ingunn Snædal

Ingunn Snaedal

Ingunn Snædal was born in Egilsstaðir on August 10th, 1971 and grew up in Jökuldalur in East-Iceland. She graduated with a B.ed degree from The Iceland University College of Education in 1996 and studied Irish at Galway University in Ireland from 1996-1997. In 2006 Ingunn started her Icelandic studies at The University of Iceland. She lived in Ireland from 1996-1998, in Cost Rica and Mexico from 1998-1999, in Spain 2001-2002 and stayed in Denmark for the summer of 1998. In Iceland, Ingunn has been an elementary school teacher, a proof-reader, a housekeeper with a road-construction team, worked at a gas station, served at restaurants, run errands, been a mailman, a […]

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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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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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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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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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Hannes Pétursson

hannespetursson2[1]

Hannes Pétursson was born in Sauðárkrókur in the north of Iceland on the 14th of December, 1931. He graduated from college in Reykjavík in 1952, and received his Cand Mag in Icelandic and Icelandic Literature from the University of Iceland in 1959. He also studied Germanics at the Universities of Cologne and Heidelberg from 1952-1954. Hannes held posts at publishing companies from 1959-1976, where he edited local history books about the region of Skagafjörður. His first book, Kvæðabók (Poetrybook), was published in 1955, and since then he has published several collections of poetry, a collection of short stories, academic texts, essays, and biographies. Among his many translations is The Metamorphosis, […]

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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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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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