Andri Snær Magnason, playwright, novelist and children’s author

Andri Snær Magnason

Andri Snær Magnason

Andri Snær Magnason, born in 1973, is a playwright, novelist and children’s author. He completed a degree in Icelandic language from the University of Iceland in 1997. His children’s book The Story of the Blue Planet (1999) was a huge success, and became the first children’s book to receive the Icelandic Literary Prize in the fiction category. It has been translated into several languages, and a play based on the story has been staged in theatres across the world. This book also received several international awards, including the Janusz Korczak Honorary Prize (2002), the Green Earth Honorary Prize (2013) and the UKLA book prize in England (2014). blai-island-175x214

4451-4001-175x223Andri Snær is also a playwright, and his first novel, LoveStar (2002), received the DV cultural prize and was nominated for the Philip K. Dick award in 2013. In 2006, he published The Dreamland, which received great reviews and won the Icelandic Literary Prize. Andri Snær is an environmental activist, and The Dreamland explores environmental issues such as aluminium plants and heavy industry. A documentary film based on The Dreamland was made in 2009, which Andri Snær directed with Þorfinnur Guðnason.

His latest book, Tímakistan (2013) received the Icelandic Literary Prize and the West-Nordic children’s book prize.

Panel: The Environment, the Future and the Future of Writing

Bergsveinn Birgisson, poet, novelist and medieval Nordic expert

Bergsveinn Birgisson

Bergsveinn Birgisson

Bergsveinn Birgisson was born in 1971. His poetry collections include The Icelander (1992) and The Invasion of the Souls (1997). Bergsveinn’s first novel, Landscape is Never Silly, was published in 2003 and was nominated for the Icelandic Literary Prize. In 2009, Bergsveinn published a research-based novel called A Manual on the Mentality of Cows.

Bergsveinn’s bestselling novel A Reply to Helga’s Letter was published in 2010 to strong critical reviews. It was nominated for the Icelandic Literary Prize and the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize, and was selected as Booksellers’ Best Novel of the Year. It was published in Germany in 2011, translated by Angela Schamberger. Svar við bréfi Helgu

A play based on A Reply to Helga’s Letter was staged in Reykjavík’s Borgarleikhúsið theatre, directed by Kristín Eysteinsdóttir, and received strong reviews.

Bergsveinn lives in Norway where he teaches medieval Nordic literature at a University. His PhD examined court poetry and its dissemination.

Though Bergsveinn is living in Norway, his writing has always focused on Iceland.

Panel: The Role of the Past in Modern Writing

Emil Hjörvar Petersen, poet and fantasy writer

Ljósmyndari: Erlendur Jónsson

Emil Hjörvar Petersen (photo by Erlendur Jónsson)

Emil Hjörvar Petersen, born in 1984, is an Icelandic author of poetry and speculative fiction. He received the New Voices Grant of the Icelandic Literature Center in 2008 for his second poetry collection, Fox. Two years later, A Saga of Survivors: Hödur & Baldur, the first novel in a trilogy, was published, one of the first Icelandic offerings in the fantasy and science fiction genres. This trilogy tells the tale of the Norse gods that survived Ragnarök, and their adventures, voyages and struggles. Refur_kápumynd-1-175x271

The second installment in the trilogy, Verge of Ruins, was published in 2012, and the third, Nidhoggur, in 2014. The trilogy has received very positive reviews, and is now part of the syllabus in Icelandic high schools and colleges.

saga-eftirlifenda-níðhöggur-175x251Emil has participated in several international writer conferences and conventions, including the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts in Florida, USA, SweCon in Sweden and Archipelacon in Finland, at which he was interviewed by Gregory Pellechi (in English) about the difficulties of the Icelandic language for writing science fiction.

His third poetry collection, Edible Cake Decorations, was published in 2014 by Meðgönguljóð, and in the same year, Fox was published in Ukrainian by Krok Publishers at the 21st Lviv International Publisher’s Forum.

Emil holds an MA in Literature and Cultural Studies, an MA in Publishing and Editing and a BA in Comparative Literature.

He gives regular talks on creative writing and fantasy/science fiction, both publicly and academically. In 2014 he worked with the Reykjavik UNESCO City of Literature on the project ‘Fantasies in Reykjavik’, where he ran a series of presentations and supervised workshops.

Emil lives in Lund, Sweden, where he is currently working on short stories, a new poetry collection, an interactive story-game funded by the Educational Materials Development Fund, and, of course, a new novel.

“A new and fresh view on the Norse gods … thrilling from the first page … a knock-out Icelandic fantasy.” —Morgunbladid Daily (a major Icelandic newspaper, on the trilogy).

Panel: Icelandic Literature as an Inspiration

Halldóra Kristín Thoroddsen, poet and writer

Halldora Kristín

Halldóra Kristín Thoroddsen

Halldóra Kristín Thoroddsen was born in 1950. So far she has published three books of poetry and two collections of short stories. Her first poetry volume, Stofuljóð (Living Room Poems) came out in 1990. She then published the poetry book Hárfínar athugasemdir (Clear-cut Observations) in 1998. In 2002 her book of microstories, 90 sýni úr minni mínu (90 Scenes from My Memory) was published. She introduced readers to this book with the following words:

03444“Our course of life mostly happens in our consciousness, it changes from day to day, and we are constantly struggling to keep pace with it, always looking out for anything that might be of help. But here I am not going to talk about this inner life, and I’ll rather concentrate on everyday events that I have lived through myself.”

The book 90 Scenes from My Memory raised much attention and pleased readers all over Iceland.

3989-4001-175x266Halldóra’s newest book of poetry is Gangandi vegfarandi (The Stroller) (2005). She says of the collection:

“This book is about us, from the point of view of the stroller who is on the way just like we are, concerned by his own business, so this is going to be a little bit twisted. He is standing right in the middle of the question mark…”

Halldóra’s short story Tvöfalt gler (Double Glass) was published in the third issue of the literary magazine 1005 in 2015. It is about a woman who looks at the world through double glass.

Panel: Telling Big Stories with Few Words

Jón Gnarr, writer, actor, comedian and former Mayor of Reykjavík


Jón Gnarr

Jón Gnarr, born in 1967, has had an awe-inspiring career. A writer, actor and comedian, he served as the mayor of Reykjavík from 2010-2014 after a satirical campaign turned serious.

Jón created the well-known radio show Tvíhöfði, with actor Sigurjón Kjartansson, which has recently returned to air as a weekly podcast from Kjarninn.

He was part of Foster Brothers (Fóstbræður), the most popular comedy group in Iceland, which had its own TV show from 1997-2000. He starred in the TV series Nightshift (Næturvaktin) in 2007, Dayshift (Dagvaktin) in 2008 and Prisonshift (Fangavaktin) in 2009, in the leading role as the grumpy, antisocial boss Georg Bjarnfreðarson. For this role he received the Edda Award in 2010, a prize that he has won nearly twenty times in his career.

Indjaninn-175x288Jón’s novel Midnight Sun City (Miðnætursólborgin) was published in 1989, and The Pleb Book (Plebbabókin) was published in 2002. In 2006 he released a fictional autobiography, The Indian (Indjáninn). Based on his childhood memories, this book was very well received and has now been published in the USA by Deep Vellum Publishing. Its sequel, The Pirate (Sjóræninginn), came out in 2012. These books have both been translated into German as well as English, and the third book in the series, Outcast (Útlaginn), will be published later this year.

{76B75FD8-48C3-4503-9D1C-D0F85F4060A4}Img100Jón’s book How I Became the Mayor of a Large City in Iceland and Changed the World was published by American publisher Melville House in 2014, and became popular worldwide.

My birth itself: Another blow for the family. I’m obviously not retarded. A relief. But after the birth, another scary fact reveals itself: I’m a redhead. It couldn’t have been more of a shock if I’d been born black.” — Jón Gnarr, The Indian.

Panel: True and False Stories

Kristín Ómarsdóttir, writer, playwright and artist


Kristín Ómarsdóttir

Kristín Ómarsdóttir is a writer, playwright and artist. She was born in 1962, and studies Icelandic language, literature and Spanish at the University of Iceland. Kristín’s first book, Draumar á hvolfi, was published in 1987 and she has since published almost thirty books.

Her novel Elskan mín ég dey (1999) was nominated for the Icelandic Literary Prize and the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize. This book is an unconventional story of a family, set in an Icelandic seaside village. Its lyrical narrative is simultaneously humorous and personal. 002-175x278

Kristín received the Women’s Literature Award for her book of poetry Sjáðu fegurð þína in 2008. She is also an award-winning playwright. Her books have been translated into Swedish, French and Finnish and her poetry has been published in several foreign magazines. Her newest novel, Flækingurinn, was published earlier this year to great reviews.

Kristín is also an artist who works with drawing, sculpture and media art.

Panel: Vilborg Dagbjartsdóttir in Conversation with Kristín Ómarsdóttir

Lilja Sigurðardóttir, writer and playwright

Lilja Sigurðardóttir

Lilja Sigurðardóttir

Born in 1972, Lilja Sigurðardóttir published her first book, the crime novel Steps, in 2009. It received excellent reviews, and was picked up by the large German publishing house Rowohlt. Lilja’s second novel, Forgiveness, came out in 2010.

Her first play, The Big Babies, was staged at the Tjarnabíó theatre in Reykjavík in the winter of 2013-2014 by the Lab Loka theatre group. Directed by Rúnar Guðbrandsson, The Big Babies received the Grímuverðlaunin award for playwright of the year.

Readers are eagerly awaiting Lilja’s next book, Trapped, which will be published in October 2015 by Forlagið. French publishing house Métailié, which has published works from two other Icelandic authors, has already bought the rights to this book. Trapped will be the first in an exciting trilogy. Fyrirgefning

Steps is Lilja Sigurðardóttir’s first novel, and to cut a long story short, she has made a good start… The story has a great flow and the author manages to create excitement: and that’s the main requirement for a crime novel… an exciting story that works. –Kolbeinn Óttarsson Proppé, Fréttablaðið Newspaper.

Panel: Crime Stories on Friday Night

Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir, recipe extraordinaire


Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir

Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir, born in 1957, is a translator and a prolific author and collector of recipe books.

Her interests lie with food, the history of food and recipes. She has collected recipe books from a young age and has over 1700 in her collection from across the world. She has also authored her own recipe books, which include Matarást (1998) and Matreiðslubók Nönnu (2001). Matarást was nominated for the Icelandic Literary Prize.

Nanna’s cookbook Maturinn hennar Nönnu (2009) was nominated for the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards for the most original cookbook and the best-illustrated cookbook. She has also written books in English about Icelandic cookery, including Icelandic Food and Cookery (2002) and Does Anyone Actually Eat This? (2014). 887164_10152451112679810_6584085899340440370_o-1

doesNanna has written articles about food and cooking for several newspapers and magazines, and has spoken at conferences about her books.

This year, Nanna published two recipe books, Ömmumatur Nönnu and Sætmeti án sykurs og sætiefna.

Panel: Food in Literature, Literature on Food

Oddný Eir Ævarsdóttir, writer, editor and curator


Oddný Eir Ævarsdóttir

Oddný Eir Ævarsdóttir was born in Reykjavík in 1972. She completed an MA in political philosophy at the University of Iceland in 2000, and completed her PhD at the Sorbonne, researching the political importance of the archive.

Oddný Eir has worked as a researcher, editor, teacher, writer and curator, with extensive involvement with museums and galleries. She has worked closely with her mother, Guðrún Kristjánsdóttir, who is an artist, and runs a small publishing company called Apaflasa with her mother and brother, Uggi Ævarsson. Oddný Eir has also worked with Björk, on nature preservation projects and the Biophilia project. Jarðnæði_Framhlid-175x269

Her book of poetry, Snjór piss hár, was published by Apaflasa in 2000. This same year, she wrote a movie script with Krisín Ómarsdóttir about the Icelandic artist Muggur.

Blátt-blóð-175x291In 2004 her first novel, Splitting the Hump, was published, an experimental blending of autobiography and fiction. Her next two novels, Home to my Heart (2009) and Plan of Ruins (2011) were also written in this form. These books received strong reviews and Plan of Ruins received the Women’s Literature Award and Europe’s Literature Prize in 2014. Plan of Ruins will be translated into English in 2016.

Oddný Eir continued her experimental autobiography form with Ástarmeistarinn: blindskák (2014), and her 2015 autobiography Blátt blóð: í leit að kátu sæði details her experience with infertility and the desire to have a baby. Her latest book, Fæðingarborgin, was published in May 2015. Written in collaboration with her father Ævar Kjartansson, this book includes letters between sons and mothers, fathers and daughters.

Panel: True and False Stories

Ófeigur Sigurðsson, avant-garde poet and novelist

ÓS portrait

Ófeigur Sigurðsson

Ófeigur Sigurðsson, born in 1975, is a writer and a poet. He is part of an avant-garde of young Icelandic poets who have recreated the medium. Ófeigur has a degree in philosophy from the University of Iceland, and has worked on the radio.

Jon-175x271A prolific poet, Ófeigur has published several collections including Toast to the Midwinter (2001) and Redness (2006). In 2005 his first novel, Áferð, was published and received very positive reviews. His second novel, Jón (2010), is the story of a man writing letters to his pregnant wife from a cave. It was the first Icelandic novel to receive the European Union Prize for Literature. Ófeigur’s latest book, Öræfi, came out in 2014, and received the Icelandic Literary Prize. It was also chosen as the best book among booksellers in 2014.

Panel: The Role of the Past in Modern Writing