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Literary Awards Reykjavík is home to numerous literary awards and prizes. The City of Reykjavík presents two annual prizes: one is named for the city poet Tómas Gudmundsson and presented for an unpublished manuscript of poetry. It has proven to be a vehicle for new poets, since the books have subsequently been published by local publishers. The other is the Reykjavík Scholastic Prize, awarded by Reykjavík City's Department of Education for two published children's books, one original in Icelandic and another in translation. The Icelandic Publishers' Association administers The Icelandic Literature Prize, nominating ten books in two categories: five works of fiction and five works of non-fiction. The nominations are presented in November each year and the President of Iceland awards the prize in January to one work in each category. The President also presents The Icelandic Translator's Prize, which is administered by the Icelandic Association of Translators and Interpreters and handed out on World Book Day. Five books are nominated for the award every year, and thus the spotlight has been cast on excellent translations of different works of fiction from around the world since the prize was founded in 2005. The Jónas Hallgrímsson Prize is awarded on Icelandic Language Day. The award is presented to an individual who is considered to have “promoted the Icelandic language in speech or print through fiction, academic work or teaching, and worked towards its advancement, development, and dissemination to a new generation.”² On this same day, Reykjavík City's Department of Education awards an Icelandic Language Prize to students nominated for excellent proficiency in Icelandic by the city's schools.

Literature trail

VEGAMÓTASTÍGUR Folktales are an important genre in Iceland. Among them are tales of elves and hidden people that have followed Icelanders into modern times. In this tale, the focus is on crossroads, and if we take the story literally, we may want to be careful when passing the street Vegamótastígur in Reykjavík, which translates as Crossroad-trail.

Other prizes awarded in Reykjavík by various parties are The Icelandic Children's Literature Prize, The Bookseller's Prize, The Women's Literature Prize, and the DV Culture Prize for Literature, hosted by a local newspaper. Furthermore, Reykjavík City Library administers the Children's Choice Book Prize; IBBY Iceland presents the award Sögusteinn biennially to a writer for his or her life-long contribution to children's literature, in addition to nominating writers for the international IBBY Honour List. The Dimm­a limm Award is presented for illustrations in children's books, Blóddropinn (the Blood Drop) is an award granted for crime fiction, and Hagthenkir – Association of Writers of Non-Fiction and Educational Material – presents awards for academic works, as does The Icelandic Library and Information Science Association. Iceland also takes part in Nordic prizes in the field of children's literature, fiction, playwriting, and crime fiction. Several contemporary Icelandic writers have received international awards and prizes for literature. Thor Vilhjálmsson, Sjón, and Einar Már Gudmundsson have, for example, been awarded the Nordic Council's Literature Prize; Andri Snær Magnason was recently presented with the esteemed international Kairos Prize; Gudbergur Bergsson received the Nordic Prize of the Swedish Academy in 2004; Kristín Steinsdóttir has received the Nordic Children's Literature Prize; Arnaldur Indridason has been presented with several awards for his crime novels, such as The Gold Dagger Award, and as was mentioned earlier, Halldór Laxness received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1955.

From “Crossroads” If a man watches at the crossroads, elves will come to him from all directions and crowd round him, bidding him come with them; but he must not heed them. They will then bring him all kinds of jewellery, gold and silver, clothes, food and drink, but he must accept nothing. Elf-women will then appear to him in the shape of his mother or sister, and bid him come, and use every device to persuade him. But when day dawns, he must stand up and say, “God be praised, it is now broad daylight.“ All the elves will then vanish, leaving their treasure behind, and he may have it. But if a man answers the elves, or accepts their offers, he will be bemused and lose his wits, and never be himself again. Translated by Alan Boucher

Reykjavík – a City of Literature


Reykjavik City of Literature - Submission  
Reykjavik City of Literature - Submission  

Reykjavik City of Literature - Submission