Literature Feb 23, 2021

Presenting the 2020 Icelandic Literary Prize Winners

The prize was awarded in three categories for Fiction, Childrens' and Young Adult, and Non-Fiction

The 2020 Icelandic Literary Prizes were presented this past January by President of Iceland, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson. Authors received their awards at the presidential residence Bessastaðir on January 26. The three categories for the awards included: Fiction, Children’s’ and Young Adult, and Non-Fiction. The awards were presented to Elísabet Jökulsdóttir, Arndís Þórarinsdóttir, Hulda Sigrún Bjarnadóttir and Sumarliði R. Ísleifsson, respectively.

The Icelandic Literary Prize grants one million ISK, funded by the Association of Icelandic Publishers, to the winner of each category.

For Fiction, Elísabet Jökulsdóttir won for Aprílsólarkuldi – Frásögn um ást og geðveiki og huggun (Sunny April Cold – A Story of Love, Madness and Solace). According to the Icelandic Literature website, “Sunny April Cold tells of paternal loss, from the perspective of Vedis, a student and single mother; the love that comes almost as unexpectedly, and her descent into mental illness, all in a split-second that seems to last an eternity.” Author, Elísabet Jökulsdóttir, is also a two-time recipient of the Women’s Literature Prize.

For Childrens’ and Young Adults, Arndís Þórarinsdóttir & Hulda Sigrún Bjarnadóttir won for Blokkin á heimsenda (The Island on the Edge of the Universe). According to the Icelandic Literature website, “Blokkin á heimsenda is about a girl and the winter she spends on a remote island where the entire population, including her thorny grandmother, lives in a single apartment building. Due to extreme weather patterns the island is cut off from the outside world during the winter months.” Dröfn must adjust to a life without Minecraft, internet and even (the horror!) chocolate bars. At the same time she needs to find her place in a community that does not welcome newcomers. The novel also won the Guðrún Helgadóttir Children’s Literature Prize prior to publication in 2020.

For Non-Fiction, Sumarliði R. Ísleifsson won for Í fjarska norðursins: Ísland og Grænland – viðhorfasaga í þúsund ár (In the Far North. Iceland and Greenland – Thousand Years of Representations). According to the Icelandic Literature website, the book covers the history of portrayals of Iceland and Greenland from medieval times until the present day. Sumarliði R. Ísleifsson has researched the representations of Iceland and Greenland by foreign writers for many years and has published other pieces on this topic. He has also written a history of the Icelandic trade union movement and other aspects of Icelandic history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. 

Will you be reading any of these award winning books? Let us know in the comments below!