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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7
Apr
20:00 - 22:00

Author reading - The Iceland Writers Retreat

AUTHOR READING BY ICELAND WRITERS RETREAT FEATURED AUTHORS, INCLUDING LINN ULLMANN, SJÓN, BARBARA KINGSOLVER, AND ADAM GOPNIK April 7, 8 p.m.  The Iceland Writers Retreat (www.icelandwritersretreat.com) will take place for the…
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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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News: Monday, 9. February 2015

Dear Iceland – A Poetic Letter by Mary Pinkoski

Mary Pinkoski. Photo: Dagur Gunnarsson.

Edmonton Poet Laureate, Mary Pinkoski, visited Reykjavik for the 2015 Winter Lights Festival. She wrote a poem to Iceland during her stay in Reykjavik.

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Quotes

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right
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

“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
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
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”

 

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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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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Jón Kalman Stefánsson

jonkalmanstefans[1]

Jón Kalman Stefánsson was born in Reykjavík on December 17th 1963. He lived there for the first 12 years of his life, then moved to Keflavík and returned to Reykjavík in 1986 with his higschool diploma. From 1975 – 1982 he spent a good deal of his time in West Iceland, where he did various jobs, worked in a slaughterhouse, in the fishing industry, doing masonry and for one summer he worked as a police officer at Keflavík International Airport. Jón Kalman studied literature at the University of Iceland from 1986 until 1991 but did not finish his degree. He taught literature at two highschools for a period of time […]

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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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Arnaldur Indridason

arnaldurindridason[1]

Arnaldur Indridason was born in Reykjavik on January 8 1961. He graduated with a B.A. degree in history from the University of Iceland in 1996. He was a journalist at Morgunbladid newspaper from 1981 – 1982 after which he became a freelance script writer. From 1986 – 2001 he worked as a film critic for Morgunbladid. Arnaldur has published a number of thrillers, the first was Synir duftsins (Sons of Earth) in 1997. Most of his novels involve the same team of detectives. He has adapted three of his books for the Radio theatre at the Icelandic Broadcasting Service. Arnaldur is one of Iceland’s leading crime story writers. He has […]

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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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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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Áslaug Jónsdóttir

aslaug[1]

Áslaug Jónsdóttir was born on March 31 1963. She grew up on the farm Melaleiti in Borgarfjörður in the west of Iceland. She did her secondary studies at Menntaskólinn við Hamrahlíð in Reykjavík, graduating in 1983. She studied at the Icelandic College of Arts and Craft from 1984 – 1985 and then went abroad for further studies. She was a student at Skolen for Brugskunst – Danmarks designeskole in Copenhagen, graduating from the department of drawing- and graphic art in 1989. Áslaug has also taken several art courses in Iceland, Sweden and in the United States. Since her graduation Áslaug has worked as an illustrator, graphic designer, writer and visual […]

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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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Vilborg Dagbjartsdóttir

vilborgdagbjarts[1]

Vilborg Dagbjartsdóttir was born at the farm Hjalli in Vestdalseyri on July 18, 1930. She studied for the theatre in 1951 and from 1952-1953 she joined a course in acting. Vilborg graduated as a teacher from Iceland’s Teacher Training Collage in 1952 and studied for Library and Information Science at the University of Iceland in 1982. Vilborg worked as a writer and schoolteacher for years, but has now retired from teaching. She has published a number of books for children, both fiction and non fiction books. She has also published collections of poetry for adults and is one of Iceland’s best known poets. Vilborg has translated many books for children and […]

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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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