Program 2015

Everyday Program, September 9th – 12th

The Battle of Coloured Drawings

Amélie Graux illustration exhibition at The Alliance Française, Tryggvagata 8, Reykjavík. Amélie Graux, born in 1977, lives and works in Paris. From an early age she was more interested in drawing, Roquefort cheese, literature and crab fishing than geography, math or volleyball. She now works as a writer, illustrator and filmmaker, and has been published […]

Blind Spot – Teju Cole photography exhibition at Eymundsson Bookstore, Austurstræti

Teju Cole (Nigeria/USA), a star author of the 2015 Reykjavík International Literary Festival who is also an acclaimed photographer, will have his photo exhibition Blind Spot displayed at Eymundsson Bookstore in Austurstræti during the festival. Cole’s writing, which has received widespread critical praise, often explores ideas about identity, place, perspective and self-awareness. Blind Spot is […]

Portrait of Thor Vilhjálmsson – Photo exhibition at the Nordic House

Author Thor Vilhjálmsson was one of the founders of the Reykjavík International Literary Festival, which first ran in 1985. This year marks its thirty-year anniversary, and to celebrate this occasion, a photo exhibition honouring Thor will be on display at Nordic House. Thor, who would have turned 90 this year, was a key figure in […]

Wednesday, September 9th

Vilborg Dagbjartsdóttir in Conversation with Kristín Ómarsdóttir

Long-renowned Icelandic writer Vilborg Dagbjartsdóttir, feminist activist, modernist poet and adored children’s author, will talk to poet, playwright and author Kristín Ómarsdóttir about her life’s work. Vilborg Dagbjartsdóttir in Conversation with Kristín Ómarsdóttir (Conducted in Icelandic)

Official Opening and Keynote Address

Teju Cole, star guest of the 2015 Reykjavík International Literary Festival, and Steinunn Sigurðardóttir, one of Iceland’s best-known writers, will formally open the festival with a keynote address at Nordic House. Cole, a Nigerian-American novelist and journalist, is a rising star in the literary world, with two acclaimed novels and several awards to his name. […]

Writing About World War II: Can you? Should you? How to?

World War II and its many atrocities arguably form one of the darkest periods in human history, and writing on such a topic can spark debate and division among readers and victims. Timur Vermes is the German author of Look Who’s Back, a controversial satirical novel that imagines Adolf Hitler awakening in 2011. Swedish author […]

Magic in the Everyday Life

Danish writer Helle Helle is an award-winning novelist whose works depict characters on all levels of society, dealing with seemingly mundane situations in everyday life. Icelandic authors Þórdís Gísladóttir and Óskar Árni Óskarsson have addressed similar themes in their writing, examining small details and events in relation to larger questions of human existence. In this […]

Thursday, September 10th

Women, Love and the Narrative in Literature

How do the narratives of women vary from the narratives of men in literature? Do we approach these narratives in different ways according to the gender of the author? Are love and relationships regarded as inherently female subjects, and if so, why? Young Danish author Stine Pilgaard’s award-winning first novel, According to my Mum (2012), […]

True and False Stories

Autobiography is a genre that raises questions about truth, perspective and the fine line between fiction and nonfiction. Writer and former mayor of Reykjavík Jón Gnarr and Icelandic author Oddný Eir Ævarsdóttir have both experimented with ‘fictional autobiography’, writing books based on their own experiences that openly blend fiction and embellishment with truth. They join […]

Write.Drink.Read: A Happy Writing Hour

Join us for a happy hour with creative writing prompts. We write, we drink, we share our work! Various writing exercises will be conducted, with (non-compulsory!) open mic readings. Willona Sloan is a writer and literary hostess hailing from Washington DC. All welcome! Write.Drink.Read: A Happy Writing Hour Host: Willona Sloan

The Role of the Past in Modern Writing

Finnish author Katja Kettu’s novel The Widwife (2011) follows its characters through World War II and the Lapland War. Ófeigur Sigurðsson’s award-winning novel Jón (2010) is set in the mid-eighteenth century on the brink of the Enlightenment, and his latest novel, Wastelands (2014), features a historical Viennese scholar. Bergsveinn Birgisson has written the story of […]

Stories that Travel and Transform

The literary works of Steinunn Sigurðardóttir are well known among readers both in Iceland and abroad. Her writing has been translated into many languages and adapted for film. She emerged as a talented author at the age of 19, and since then has published novels, poetry and children’s books, and written drama for radio and […]

Friday, September 11th

The Environment, the Future and the Future of Writing

Science fiction is a genre that enjoys huge cult popularity, and its power as a political tool should not be underestimated. Renowned science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson (USA), named ‘Hero of the Environment’ by Time Magazine, depicts the colonization of Mars in the face of ecological disaster on Earth in his Mars trilogy. Icelandic […]

Icelandic Literature as an Inspiration

Iceland is internationally recognized for its literary heritage and prestige. Bestselling British author David Mitchell, best known for his novel Cloud Atlas (2004), is a huge fan, and has expressed great admiration for Icelandic author Halldór Laxness. Parts of his latest novel, The Bone Clocks (2014), take place here, with one of the protagonists being […]

Orðstír: Honorary Award to Translators of Icelandic

A round table dedicated to translation and translators on the occasion of the first honorary award to translator of Icelandic literature. The translators Catherine Eyjólfsson and Erik Skyum-Nielssen meet the authors Bergsveinn Birgsson and Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir and discuss the magic of translation. Moderator: Ólöf Pétursdóttir translator. (Conducted in Icelandic)

Crime Stories on Friday Night

Popular French crime novelist Pierre Lemaître received the International Dagger award from the British Crime Writers’ Association for his thriller Alex (2011), which has been a bestseller in Iceland since its release. Yrsa is one of the most popular contemporary Icelandic crime novelists. Lilja’s newest novel, Trapped, will be published in October. Lemaitre joins these […]

Saturday, September 12th

Telling Big Stories with Few Words

‘Microstories’ offer a brief and moving glimpse into the lives of their characters. Ana María Shua, one of the best-known Argentinian writers, has mastered this genre, earning herself the title ‘Queen of the Microstory’. Icelandic author Halldóra Thoroddsen has also worked with this genre, with a published microstory collection titled 90 Scenes from my Memory. […]

Home Away from Home

Immigration is a topic that can be explored brilliantly in literature, through insights and observations about new homes, old homes and contrasts of place. Nigerian-American novelist Teju Cole, whose books have gained international acclaim, writes with originality and eloquence on immigrant experiences, enunciating the flow of humanity through both time and place. Iraqi-born writer Hassan […]

Journalism is Not a Crime

The Absent Authors Program focuses on an author or group of authors who for some reason are absent, be that through death, imprisonment or censorship. This event will address the issue of journalist incarceration. Maziar Bahari is an Iranian-Canadian journalist and filmmaker, who was arrested by Iranian authorities without charge during the 2009 Iranian election […]

Literary Ball: Iðnó Theater

On the closing night of the festival, the audiences, authors, publishers and festival team will all have the opportunity to relax, mingle, dance and celebrate their love of literature at the Literary Ball. Brass band Royal will perform live, providing a rhythmic and melodious soundtrack to the evening. A wonderful opportunity to chat about books, […]


Literary Sprint: Reading in the Window at Eymundsson Bookstore, Austurstræti

For two days during the lead up to the festival, Eymundsson Bookstore in Austurstræti will set up a comfy armchair in the window, where anyone is welcome to sit, relax, read for fifteen minutes, and record what they have read in the log book. Readers will be encouraged to sample books and authors from the […]

Norden 2040

Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Åland and Greenland are the most sparsely populated and peripheral areas in the Nordic region. What does the future look like in the eyes of the youth in these places? Forty young writers from these areas will meet in Reykjavík during the festival for an intensive workshop with mentors, where they […]