Festivals, Events and Awards The key players in the promotion of literature and literacy in the city are Reykjavík City Library, Reykjavík schools at all levels, publishers and bookshops, city festivals, culture centres and writer organizations, together with the University of Iceland and it's institutes. In this chapter, we will give a short summary of events and literary culture in Reykjavík, focusing on collaboration and cooperative projects between the City of Reykjavík and its main partners on the literary scene.
One of the main reading promotions is however not really an organized program, but one that has grown out of tradition – the Icelandic habit of publishing books primarily in the months leading up to Christmas. This is called the Book-Flood-Before-Christmas, which may sound strange and even horrific in English, but the Icelandic word “jólabókaflód” is a term familiar to every Icelander. It is no exaggeration to say that in Reykjavík, the time from early October until Christmas is dedicated to books in a massive way, publishers put out new books in large numbers, bookstores, libraries, cafés, bars, schools, workplaces and the media promote them in various ways and the public takes part by flocking to events, discussing what the books of choice might be this year, which one to get for their loved ones for Christmas, and so on. Writers become shop assistants in bookstores for the occasion, help customers pick out books by different authors and gift-wrap them, and readings take place all over town. Books are the single most popular Christmas gift item in Iceland, and everyone who has a role in the book industry and the promotion of literature taps into this. This is the time of year when books are quite literally the talk of the town. Several things have been done in recent years and decades to extend this atmosphere to other seasons, such as increased publishing in the spring and adding new festivals and events to the Reykjavík culture scene. The City of Reykjavík has also decided to start an organized city-wide literary campaign and Reykjavík City Library will be leading this new program for the first time in 2012, in cooperation with schools, publishers, writers and others. The preparations are still at the early stages when this is written, but this will be a program for all ages in the spirit of One City – One Book campaigns, and is meant to become a steady part of the literary life in the city. Literature Festivals Literature is celebrated at several festivals to which Reykjavík plays host and have become central to the city's cultural life in the past decades. The most prestigious book festival is the Reykjavík International Literature Festival, which has been a biennial event since 1985. The festival is respected both at home and abroad and can boast a remarkable guest list, counting Kurt Vonnegut, Günter Grass, J.M. Coetzee, Paul Auster, A.S. Byatt, Isabel Allende, Haruki Murakami, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Seamus Heaney and Taslima Nasrin, just to name a few. In addition to these fine international writers, most of Iceland's greatest writers have taken part in the festival. All the events are free and attendance has always been high; the readings and other events are held in an old theatre in the city centre and at the Nordic House, and the venues have been packed with people almost without exception. The
UNESCO City of Literature
Published on Jul 23, 2012