Reykjavik Reads - Reykjavik City of Literature hosted its first Reykjavik Reads Festival in October. Several schools at all levels took part, as well as libraries, publishers, literary organisations, the Writers’ Union and more. The festival, which was called Orðið er frjálst (The Word is Free), was dedicated to one book in the fashion of One City, One Book festivals that have for example been held regularly in the UNESCO Cities of Literature, Edinburgh and Dublin.
The book in focus was a Reykjavik novel from 1950, Vögguvísa (Lullaby) by Elías Mar, one of the first Icelandic novels focusing on the life of teenagers in the city, which was rapidly growing at the time. The book was reissued by a local publisher in printed form, as an e-book and audio book. The book was also the mid-day-story at the National Public Radio, RÚV, read by the author himself (an old taping).
Among other things, this month long festival gave birth to a new lullaby presented to all day-cares in Reykjavík, as well as a word-graffiti mural at the City Library’s main building. Videos were made with local comedians who worked with the text from the novel, exhibitions put up, literary walking tours were offered to schools and the public, several school projects took place, as well as seminars for the public and the book and the festival were prominent in the local media.
Reykjavik Reads (Lestrarhátíð í Reykjavík) is meant to become an annual event, celebrating reading for all ages, children, teenagers and grown-ups. The festival will have a theme each year, whether it is one book or a broader theme. Although the festival is hosted by Reykjavik City of Literature, it is a grassroots festival and all those who want to take part – organizations, institutions, businesses or individual artists – are encouraged to join in.