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
Jul
16.07.15 - 03.10.15
All day

Endurbókun / Ree-Booking: Book-Art Exhibition

Eight female artists, all members of the artist group ARKIR, display a variety of book-art at the Reykjavik City Library branch library in Spöngin in Grafarvogur. All the artwork is…
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30
Jul
15:00 - 16:30

Literary walking tour at 3 pm

Dark Deeds 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…
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2
Aug
16:00 - 16:00

Musical Moments at Halldór Laxness House

Summer Concerts at the House of Nobel Prize Winner Gljúfrasteinn, the House of Halldór Laxness, hosts a concert in the writer's living room every Sunday during the summer months. On…
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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…
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9
Aug
16:00 - 16:00

Musical Moments at House of Halldór Laxness

Summer Concert Series at House of Nobel Winner Gljúfrasteinn, the House of Halldór Laxness, hosts a concert in the writer's living room every Sunday during the summer months. On Sunday,…
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
16
Aug
16:00 - 16:00

Musical Moments at Halldór Laxness House

Summer Concert Series at House of Nobel Winner Gljúfrasteinn, the House of Halldór Laxness, hosts a concert in the writer's living room every Sunday during the summer months. On Sunday,…
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
23
Aug
16:00 - 16:00

Musical Moments at House of Halldór Laxness

Summer Concert Series at House of Nobel Winner Gljúfrasteinn, the House of Halldór Laxness, hosts a concert in the writer's living room every Sunday during the summer months. On Sunday,…
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
16:00 - 16:00

Musical Moments at Halldór Laxness House

SUMMER CONCERT SERIES AT HOUSE OF NOBEL WINNER Gljúfrasteinn, the House of Halldór Laxness, hosts a concert in the writer’s living room every Sunday during the summer months. On Sunday,…
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…
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News: Thursday, 23. July 2015

The IcePick

icepicksmall

Five crime novels have been nominated for the 2015 IcePick Award. The award is given to a crime novel translated into Icelandic where a good story and a good translation go hand in hand. The award is hosted by the Iceland Noir Festival, the Icelandic Crime Writers Association and the Icelandic Association of Translators and Interpreters.

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News: Wednesday, 15. July 2015

Ós – A Multilingual Writing Collective

Ós

A group of women that took part in a Multilingual Writing Workshop with writer Angela Rawlings this year, organized by the Reykavík UNESCO City of Literature, have formed a new writing collective. They call themselves Ós – this Icelandic word means estuary/mouth of a river. Their aim is to give voice to multilingual writers and poets living in Iceland. The collective offers support to these artists in both print and performance.

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Quotes

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right
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
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
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

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

Under The Glacier
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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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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Njörður P. Njarðvík

Njörður P. Njarðvík, verðlaun Jónasar Hallgrímssonar

Njörður P. Njarðvík was born in Ísafjörður, in the West-fjords Iceland, on June 30th 1936. He matriculated from the Akureyri secondary school in 1955, graduated from The University of Iceland with a cand mag. in Icelandic and Swedish in 1964 and recieved his Fil. dr. degree from Göteborgs Universitet in Sweden in 1993. Njörður is professor emeritus at The University of Iceland. Njörður was a secondary school teacher in Reykjavík from 1956-63 and 1965-6, was a newspaper literature- and theatre critic from 1962-3 and teacher at the Icelandic School of Education from 1963-4. He managed the Skálholt publishing house from 1964-66. He then moved to Sweden where he lectured at […]

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Árni Þórarinsson

arnithorarins[1]

Árni Þórarinsson was born in Reykjavík on August first 1950. After finishing high school in Reykjavík in 1970, he studied comparative literature at The University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, and gradated with a B.A. degree in 1973. Árni has worked as a journalist and in the media for years. He started out as a journalist at Morgunblaðið newspaper in the summers of 1971 and 1972, and worked full time at the same paper from 1973 – 1976. He was the editor of the weekend edition of Vísir newspaper from 1976 – 1979, also writing film reviews, and the editor of Helgarpósturinn newspaper from 1979 – 1984, doing critique […]

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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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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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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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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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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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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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Guðbergur Bergsson

gudbergurbergsson[1]

Guðbergur Bergsson was born on October 16th, 1932 in Grindavík, Iceland. He received a Teaching Diploma from the Iceland University of Education in 1955, went to Spain for further studies and graduated in Spanish, literature and art history from La Universidad de Barcelona in 1958. Since then he has spent much of his time in Spain. His first books, the novel Músin sem læðist (The Prowling Mouse) and the poetry collection Endurtekin orð (Repeated Words), appeared in 1961. Since then he has published numerous books of various kinds, short stories, over 20 novels, children’s books, autobiographical novels, and more. He has also written articles about literature, art, and social issues […]

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