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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27
May
20:00 - 20:00

Icelandic Sagas - The Greatest Hits

WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF HALLGERD OF THE LONG-PANTS, GUNNLAUGUR SERPENT TONGUE, KILLER-GLUMUR, HARALDUR WITH THE-GREAT-HAIRDO AND MJOLL THE-BIGGEST-OF-ALL-WOMEN-WHO-WERE-NOT-GIANTS The Icelandic Sagas are 40 unique stories describing the settlement of Iceland.…
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28
May
20:00 - 20:00

Icelandic Sagas - The Greatest Hits

WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF HALLGERD OF THE LONG-PANTS, GUNNLAUGUR SERPENT TONGUE, KILLER-GLUMUR, HARALDUR WITH THE-GREAT-HAIRDO AND MJOLL THE-BIGGEST-OF-ALL-WOMEN-WHO-WERE-NOT-GIANTS The Icelandic Sagas are 40 unique stories describing the settlement of Iceland.…
more
29
May
20:00 - 20:00

Icelandic Sagas - The Greatest Hits

WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF HALLGERD OF THE LONG-PANTS, GUNNLAUGUR SERPENT TONGUE, KILLER-GLUMUR, HARALDUR WITH THE-GREAT-HAIRDO AND MJOLL THE-BIGGEST-OF-ALL-WOMEN-WHO-WERE-NOT-GIANTS The Icelandic Sagas are 40 unique stories describing the settlement of Iceland.…
more
30
May
20:00 - 20:00

Icelandic Sagas - The Greatest Hits

WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF HALLGERD OF THE LONG-PANTS, GUNNLAUGUR SERPENT TONGUE, KILLER-GLUMUR, HARALDUR WITH THE-GREAT-HAIRDO AND MJOLL THE-BIGGEST-OF-ALL-WOMEN-WHO-WERE-NOT-GIANTS The Icelandic Sagas are 40 unique stories describing the settlement of Iceland.…
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2
Jun
15:00 - 16:30

Dark Deeds - Guided literature Walk

Literary Walk in English The Reykjavík City Library offers guided literary walking tours in English every Thursday in June, July and August. The walks are free of charge and no…
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3
Jun
16:30 - 17:30

Poetry and Parenthood from US to Iceland

[caption id="attachment_5140" align="alignnone" width="414"] Kristian Guttersen and Sigurbjörg Sæmundsdóttir. Sarah McKinstry-Brown and Matt Mason[/caption] Poetry and Parenthood from US to Iceland Icelandic poets and married couple Kristian Guttesen and Sigurbjörg…
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9
Jun
15:00 - 16:30

Dark Deeds - Literary Walk

A Guided Tour in English Reykjavík City Library hosts a guided literary walking tour every Thursday in June, July and August at 3 pm. This is a fun way to…
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16
Jun
15:00 - 16:30

Dark Deeds - Literary Walk

A Guided Tour in English Reykjavík City Library hosts a guided literary walking tour every Thursday in June, July and August at 3 pm. This is a fun way to…
more
23
Jun
15:00 - 16:30

Dark Deeds - Literary Walk

A Guided Tour in English Reykjavík City Library hosts a guided literary walking tour every Thursday in June, July and August at 3 pm. This is a fun way to…
more
30
Jun
15:00 - 16:30

Dark Deeds - Literary Walk

A Guided Tour in English Reykjavík City Library hosts a guided literary walking tour every Thursday in June, July and August at 3 pm. This is a fun way to…
more
News: Friday, 20. May 2016

Icelandic Sagas – The Greatest Hits

Icelandic-Sagas

This summer, from May through August 2016, a unique play based on the Icelandic Sagas is staged at the Reykjavík Concert Hall Harpa. The play, which is in English, gives visitors and Icelanders alike a refreshing and funny insight into these old stories written about the Viking time in Iceland.

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News: Friday, 20. May 2016

Lena Gorelik in Reykjavík

Lena Gorelik

Lena Gorelik is a writer in residence in Reykjavík in April and May 2016. The writer in residence programme is a cooperation between Goethe-Institut in Copenahagen and the Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature. Lena is the seventh author hosted by this programme in Reykjavík.

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Quotes

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right
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 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
svavajakobs[1]
Svava Jakobsdóttir

“She had begun to fear those moments which interrupted her usual rush from morning to night. More and more often she lost her poise if she stopped to make a desicion.”

The Lodger and Other Stories
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

“One never knows how things are going to turn out, and that’s why I say it’s essential never to lean too far to the one side, especially in politics.”

Independent People
svavajakobs[1]
Svava Jakobsdóttir

“She got out of bed very early that morning. She went about everything quietly so as not to wake her parents in the next room. She then crept to the desk by the window and tore yesterday off the calendar.”

The Lodger and Other Stories

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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Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

yrsa

Yrsa Sigurðardóttir was born in Reykjavík on August 24th, 1963. She graduated from high-school in 1983, finished a B.Sc.- degree in civil engineering from the University of Iceland in 1988 and M.Sc.- degree in the same field from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada in 1997. Yrsa works as a civil engineer for the engineering-company Fjarhitun, as well as being a writer. In 1998 Yrsa published her first book for children, Þar lágu Danir í því. To this date her books for children and teenagers are five, the newest is Biobörn (BIO Children), published in 2003. In 2000 the Icelandic department of IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) awarded […]

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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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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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Sjón

sjon

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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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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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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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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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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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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