Ingo Schulze (b. 1962) is a German writer born in Dresden in former East Germany. In his fiction, Schulze has dealt with the aftermath of the Berlin Wall’s fall and German reunification. His novel Simple Stories, published in 1995 in Germany, became an international bestseller. In 1998, The New Yorker named Ingo Schulze among the five most promising European authors. He has won numerous literary awards, including the prestigious Alfred Döblin Prize and the Ernst Willner Prize for Literature. Schulze’s works have been translated into over 20 languages.
Matt Haig (b. 1975) is a bestselling British author and journalist. His first novel, The Last Family in England, which is based on Shakespeare’s Henry IV as experienced from the perspective of dogs, attracted much attention. Haig’s quirky and often dark depictions of modern family life have appealed not only to readers in great numbers but to filmmakers well. The film rights to his first novel have been sold and a film adaptation of his latest novel The Radleys, a story about the troubles of suburbanite vampires in the UK, has also been announced. Haig has also written children’s books.
Pia Tafdrup (b. 1952) is a Danish writer. She is predominantly a poet, but her work also includes novels, plays and radio pieces. She was elected as a member of the Danish Literary Academy in 1989. Tafdrup was awarded the Nordic Council’s Literary Prize in 1999 for her poetry book Dronningporten, and the Swedish Academy’s Nordic Prize in 2006. Tafdrup’s work has been translated into more than 25 languages.
Paolo Giordano (b. 1982) is an Italian writer and a PhD in theoretical physics. He won Italy’s premier literary award, the Premio Strega, for his first novel, The Solitude of Prime Numbers, becoming the youngest author to do so. The book has received numerous other awards, such as the Premio Campiello Opera Prima, and has been translated into more than 30 languages. In 2010, a movie based on the book was released to enthusiastic reviews.
Sara Stridsberg (b. 1977) is a Swedish novelist, playwright and translator. She won the Nordic Council’s Literary Prize in 2007 for her novel Drömfakulteten, a fictionalized account of the life of radical feminist Valerie Solanas, who authored the notorious SCUM manifesto and made an attempt on Andy Warhol’s life. Stridsberg has also written a play about Solanas and translated the SCUM manifesto into Swedish. Her latest novel, Darling River, was published in 2010.
Kristof Magnusson (b. 1976) is an Icelandic-German author, playwright and translator. Kristof first attracted attention with his comic play Männerhort, which premiered at the Bonn City Theater in 2003. He has published short stories, articles and essays in newspapers, magazines and journals around the world, and has translated Icelandic fiction and poetry into German. His first novel, Zuhause, was published in 2005, followed by Das war ich nicht in 2010.
Steve Sem-Sandberg (b. 1958) is one of Sweden’s most critically acclaimed and bestselling authors. His novels, Theres, Allt förgängligt är bara en bild and Ravensbrück, which together form a trilogy about three women who put their mark on the 20th century, won much critical praise. His latest novel, De fattiga i Lodz, is a moving story set in a Jewish ghetto in Poland during the Second World War. The novel won The August Prize in 2010 and was shortlisted for the Nordic Council’s Literary Prize in the same year.
Karl Ove Knausgård (b. 1968) is a highly acclaimed Norwegian author. He is known for the critically praised and controversial six-volume autobiographical epic Min Kamp. The first volume was published in 2009, and the sixth and final volume is to be published later this year. Knausgård has been shortlisted for the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize twice; first for his novel En tid for alt and the second time for Min Kamp. His first novel, Ute av verden, earned him the Norwegian Critic’s Prize for Literature.
Horacio Castellanos Moya (b. 1957) is a Salvadoran novelist and short story writer, widely regarded as one of the most important writers of Central America. He has authored five short story collections and nine novels, which have been translated into several languages. The publication of his controversial novel El asco forced him into exile from his home country. He now lives in Iowa City, USA, where he is a writer in residence of the City Asylum project, which provides refuge to exiled and persecuted authors.
Nawal El Saadawi (b. 1931) is an Egyptian author of over 50 works of fiction. She has faced political oppression in her homeland for her political views, and for her powerful fiction on the status of women. In 1981, Saadawi was imprisoned for protesting, and she fled Egypt in 1988 after receiving death threats from extremists. A world-renowned human rights activist, Saadawi was prominent in the protests in Tahrir square, which broke out when the demand for political change in Egypt came to a head earlier this year.
Herta Müller (b. 1953) is a Romanian-born German novelist. In 2009, she received the Nobel Prize in Literature, on which occasion she was described by the Swedish Academy as a writer “who with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose depicts the landscape of the dispossessed.” She was persecuted in Romania for agitating for the freedom of speech, and for her critical depictions of violence and cruelty behind the Iron Curtain under the Ceauşescu regime in Romania. Müller immigrated to West Germany in 1987.
Denise Epstein (b. 1929) is the daughter of famed French novelist Irène Némirovsky (1903), who was killed by the Nazis in Auschwitz in 1942. Némirovsky was a highly successful author in pre-war France but was forced into obscurity during the Nazi occupation of Paris. Today she is best known for the unfinished Suite française; two recently released novellas set in World War II that portray life in France during the occupation of Paris. At the festival, Epstein will introduce her mother’s long forgotten but newly rediscovered works. In connection with Epstein’s appearance at the Reykjavík Literary Festival, a photography exhibition about the life of Irène Némirovsky will be shown. Denise Epstein is a guest of the Reykjavík Literary Festival in conjunction with Alliance Française.
Vikas Swarup (b. 1963) is the author of the internationally best-selling novel Q&A, which was adapted into the Oscar winning film Slumdog Millionaire in 2008. Before his sudden success as a novelist, Swarup was a diplomat for the Indian embassy. He wrote Q&A in two months, while stationed at the Indian High Commission in London. His second novel, Six Suspects, has also enjoyed much popularity.
Alberto Blanco (b. 1951) is considered one of Mexico’s most important poets. He has published twenty-six books of poetry in Mexico and additional books in other countries. His work, which includes translation and essays as well as poetry, has been translated into numerous languages. In 1988, Blanco was awarded the Carlos Pellicer Prize for Poetry for his book Cromos, and in 1989, the José Fuentes Mares Prize for Canto a la sombra de los animales. In 2010, he was a candidate for the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Prize.
Anna Politkovskaya (1958-2006) was a Russian journalist and author, known for her criticism of the Russian government, especially with regard to the war in Chechnya. On 7 October, 2006, she was shot and killed in the lift of the apartment building where she lived. Politkovskaya’s articles on conditions in Chechnya were adapted into several books, and she received numerous international awards for her work during her lifetime. Reykjavík Literary Festival will host a discussion about Anna Politkovskaya between Icelandic author Sjón and Katharina Narbutovic, director of the Berlin Artists Program of the DAAD.