Icelandic Literature Goes Global

Back around March, I interviewed two prominent literary organizations in Iceland about their recent Alþingi-approved merger and the state of Icelandic literature on the global market. The article recently ran in The Reykjavík Grapevine, and was posted online, so I am pleased to be able to share it with you now. Here’s the beginning:

The Icelandic parliament passed a law at the end of last year combining two key institutions—The Icelandic Literature Fund and Fabulous Iceland—to make the Icelandic Literature Center. Although the new centre’s primary goals, namely, “to support the publication of Icelandic works of literature in other languages,” and “raise awareness of Icelandic literature, both within Iceland and abroad,” have not changed, the official merging of these goals reflects a newly focused, state-supported effort to bring Icelandic literature forward on the world stage.

Iceland’s reputation as a nation of readers and writers has been vaunted for some time, but the purposeful promotion of Icelandic literature—both through publishing ventures abroad and literary initiatives around Reykjavík—has gained momentum over the last few years. The year 2011 in particular was a high-water mark for significant Icelandic literary ventures. That year, Iceland became the first Nordic country to be Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair, boasting the motto: “Fabulous Iceland.” At the same time, Reykjavík was designated as a UNESCO City of Literature—one of only five cities in the world to be so honoured, and the only one in which English is not the native tongue.

Check out the full article here.


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