City of Literature and The Literature Web
The City of Reykjavik was designated as a UNESCO City of Literature in August 2011, the fifth city in the world and the first non-native English speaking city to receive the honorary title. The title is permanent. UNESCO Cities of Literature are part of the larger UNESCO Creative Cities Network, of which Reykjavik was the 29th member. Since then, the Network has grown and will continue to do so.
UNESCO’s official letter of nomination states that “The City of Reykjavik boasts foremost an outstanding literary history with its invaluable heritage of ancient medieval literature, the Sagas, the Edda and the Íslendingabók, Libellus Islandorum (Book of Icelanders). This longstanding tradition has naturally cultivated the city’s strength in literature education, preservation, dissemination and promotion. For a city of small population, approximately 200,000 habitants, Reykjavik is especially appreciated for demonstrating the central role literature plays within the modern urban landscape, the contemporary society and the daily life of the citizens. With the support of the central government of Iceland, the city continues to pursue its development plans in support of languages, translation initiatives as well as international literary exchanges.”
Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature is run as a cultural office within the Reykjavík City’s Department of Culture and Tourism. It is located at the Reykjavík City Hall. Staff members are two.
- Support and promote literary activities that take place in Reykjavík and provide information about our rich literary heritage.
- Stimulate cooperation and encourage new connections in the fields of literature, reading and writing in Reykjavík.
- Work with the tourist industry in promoting Reykjavík as a literary and cultural destination.
- Enhance international collaboration as regards Icelandic literature and active participation in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
See also the UNESCO Creative Cities Mission Statement (pdf).
The Literature web
The web Icelandic Literature, which is part of this website, is run by the Reykjavík City Library. It contains information about contemporary Icelandic authors and their work. It was launched in 2000 and has been steadily growing since then, now counting more than 100 fiction writers in all genres. Here you can find information about writers of poetry and prose; novel- and short story writers, authors of children's books and playwrights. You can read articles by Icelandic critics about each author, personal essays from the authors written for the web, biographical information and bibliography with lists of original and translated work, as well as excerpts from some published works.
The aim of this website is to make information about contemporary lcelandic literature accessible to the general public, students of Icelandic literature and scholars, and to support Icelandic literature at home and abroad. We hope it will be of good use to you and welcome all comments.
If you have been reading a book by an Icelandic author and would like to share your thoughts with other readers, please feel free to contact us.
Editor in Chief is Björn Unnar Valsson.