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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28
Feb
28.12.16 - 02.12.17
All day

Kæj! Comics Exhibition

Comics for a Quarter Century Icelandic artist Þorri Hringsson exhibits a selection of works from his career in comics at the Reykjavik City Library, now spanning over a quarter century.…
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28
Feb
07.01.17 - 13.03.17
All day

Gombri - Comics Exhibition

Elín Edda at the City Library The comics exhibition Gombri by Elín Edda will run in the Comics department of the Reykjavik City Library in Tryggvagata from January 6th -…
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28
Feb
22.01.17 - 05.03.17
All day

Illustrations from Icelandic Children's Books

This is What Children Like This is What Children Like, the 15th annual exhibition of illustrations from Icelandic children's books, will open at the Gerduberg Culture House on the 22th…
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11
Mar
13:00 - 13:00

Story Hour in Norwegian

Reading, playing and singing with Matja Steen The Nordic House in Reykjavik offers story hours in Norwegian on the Saturdays February 11th, March 11th, April 8th and May 6th 2017.…
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8
Apr
13:00 - 13:00

Story Hour in Norwegian

Reading, playing and singing with Matja Steen The Nordic House in Reykjavik offers story hours in Norwegian on the Saturdays February 11th, March 11th, April 8th and May 6th 2017.…
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6
May
13:00 - 13:00

Story Hour in Norwegian

Reading, playing and singing with Matja Steen The Nordic House in Reykjavik offers story hours in Norwegian on the Saturdays February 11th, March 11th, April 8th and May 6th 2017.…
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News: Thursday, 9. February 2017

Creative Crossroads

logo_Krakow

In 2018, two UNESCO Creative Cities in Poland – Krakow and Katowice – will join forces to host the Annual Meeting of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN). Like Reykjavík, Krakow is a UNESCO City of Literature and Katowice is a UNESCO City of Music.

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News: Tuesday, 24. January 2017

Ready. Steady. Read!

allirlesa 960_406

Ready. Steady. Read! is a national game of reading. People of all ages, throughout Iceland, form teams and read together for three weeks. Readers can also go solo and take part as individuals. The 2017 game starts on January 27 and runs through February 19.

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Quotes

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HKL
Halldór Laxness

“Whoever doesn´t live in poetry cannot survive here on earth.”

Under the Glacie, 1968
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
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
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”

 

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
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

“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
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

Videos

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Woman from Poland

A video (in English) about the wall-art "Woman from Poland" by Ewa Marcinek and ...

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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Þorsteinn frá Hamri

thorsteinnfrahamri[1]

Þorsteinn (Jónsson) frá Hamri (from Hamar) was born on March 15, 1938 on the farm Hamar in Þverárhlíð in Borgarfjörður. He completed his primary education at Reykholtsskóli in 1954 and studied at Iceland’s Teacher Training College during the years of 1955-1957. Þorsteinn worked as an assistant librarian at Kópavogur Library between 1961-1967, but since then he has devoted his time to writing. He has also scripted radio programs, read proofs, and translated a number of books. Þorsteinn was the secretary of the board of The Icelandic Writer’s Associsation from 1966-1968 and a vice member of the board of The Writer’s Union of Iceland 1984-1986. He was also a member of […]

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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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Þórarinn Eldjárn

thorarinneldjarn[1]

Þórarinn Eldjárn was born in Reykjavík on August 22 1949. He studied literature and philosophy at the University of Lund in Sweden between 1969 and 1972, Icelandic at the University of Iceland 1972-1973, and completed a phil.cand. degree in literature at the University of Lund in 1975. Þórarinn lived in Stockholm from 1975 to 1979 and spent a year in Canterbury in 1988-1989. Since 1975 Þórarinn has worked as a writer and translator. He has published a number of poetry collections, short-story collections and novels as well a translating fiction for adults and children from English and the Scandinavian languages. Among them are novels by Göran Tunström, and Lewis Carroll’s […]

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Matthías Johannessen

matthiasjohannessen

Matthías Johannessen fæddist í Reykjavík 3. janúar 1930. Hann lauk Cand.-mag.-prófi í norrænum fræðum frá Háskóla Íslands árið 1955, með íslenskar bókmenntir sem aðalgrein. Hann lagði stund á almenna bókmenntasögu og leiklistarfræði í Kaupmannahöfn um tíma og rannsakaði m.a. verk Gríms Thomsen. Matthías starfaði lengst af við Morgunblaðið, fyrst sem blaðamaður frá 1951-1959 og síðan sem ritstjóri fram í ársbyrjun 2001 þegar hann lét af störfum. Matthías hefur á löngum ritferli sent frá sér ljóðabækur, leikrit, ritgerðir, viðtalsbækur og ævisögur, þýðingar, annast útgáfur og samið formála að ýmsum ritum, auk fjölbreytts efnis í blöðum og tímaritum. Matthías er þekktur fyrir samtöl sín við kunna sem og síður þekkta einstaklinga, m.a. […]

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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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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 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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Vilborg Davíðsdóttir

vilborgdavids[1]

Vilborg Davíðsdóttir was born on the 3rd of September, 1965 in Þingeyri. She graduated from the Ísafjörður high-school in 1984 and studied English at the University of Iceland for two terms, 1985-1986. She completed a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Iceland in 1991, and a BA in folkloristics in 2005. Vilborg worked as a journalist, reporter and producer in various media from 1985 to 2000. She has since dedicated herself to writing and translating, and is also studying for a masters degree in folkloristics at the University of Iceland. Her first novel, Við Urðarbrunn, was published in 1993 and a sequel, Nornadómur, in 1994. Við […]

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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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Gyrdir Elíasson

gyrdireliasson[1]

Gyrdir Elíasson was born in Reykjavík on April 4, 1961. His family comes from the East fjords but he grew up in the town of Sauðárkrókur in Northern Iceland and went to both elementary school and college there. He lived for a while in the western part of the country, in Borgarnes and Akranes, but later in Reykjavík. Gyrðir has been a full time writer almost all his adult life, he has published a number of poetry books, novels and collections of short stories. He is one of Iceland’s most acclaimed writers of his generation. Hirst published book is the poetry collection Svarthvít axlabönd (Black-and-White Suspenders) from 1983. Gyrðir is also […]

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