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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31
Oct
12.08.14 - 31.10.14
11:00 - 18:00

Shadows – Comics exhibition

Comic artist Bjarni Hinriksson opens an exhibition in in the comics department of the Reykjavík City Library, Tryggvagata 15, Friday August 15th, at 16.00. Bjarni studied comic art at the…
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31
Oct
04.10.14 - 23.11.14
12:00 - 17:00

Peacock in the Moor - a Fairy Tale of Words

A Creative Reading Experience for the Whole Family A peacock has landed in the Vatnsmýri moor in Reykjavik and pranced into the Nordic House carrying in its tail a colourful…
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27
Nov
27.11.14 - 29.11.14
All day

Sturla, international conference

The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies, University of Iceland and Oslo University are organizing an international conference on 27th–29th November 2014 in Reykjavík to celebrate the 800th anniversary of…
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News: Tuesday, 28. October 2014

The Snorri Sturluson Icelandic Fellowships 31.10.2014

snorristurluson

The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies invites applications for the Snorri Sturluson Icelandic Fellowships for 2015. The Fellowships are granted to writers, translators and scholars (not to university students) in the field of humanities from outside Iceland, to enable them to stay in Iceland for a period of at least three months, in order to improve their knowledge of the Icelandic language, culture and society. Applications should be sent by ordinary mail (no e-mail application) no later than 31 October 2014 to Árnastofnun.

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News: Monday, 20. October 2014

Spreading the Word – International Projects

ORT-skaldabekkur-Krakow2014

In the past three years, Reykjavík City of Literature has participated in a number of international projects and in particular, two projects promoting Icelandic and Polish poetry and prose both in Reykjavík and in major cities in Poland. The short story project Transgressions is currently going on.

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Quotes

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HKL
Halldór Laxness

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

Under The Glacier
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

“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
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
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”

 

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
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"

Videos

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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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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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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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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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Guðrún Eva Mínervudóttir

gudruneva[1]

Guðrún Eva Mínervudóttir was born in Reykjavík on March 17, 1976. She worked as a waiter and bartender in various places in the years 1993 – 1996, while also studying at different high-schools. She graduated with a B.A. degree in philosophy from The University of Iceland in 2007. Guðrún Eva worked as a freelance journalist for newspaper Helgarpósturinn in 1996 – 1997. She is now a full time writer. Guðrún Eva’s first book, Sóley sólufegri, came out in 1998 in a very limited edition. In the same year the publishing house Bjartur published her short story collection Á meðan hann horfir á þig ertu María mey (While He Watches You, You are the Virgin […]

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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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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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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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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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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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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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