Along the shores of Norfolk, although in Reykjavík

Icelandic author Valur Gunnarsson has been appointed a UNESCO City of Literature Virtual Writer in Residence 2021, at the UK‘s National Centre for Writing in Norwich. The month-long residency takes place in February 2021 uniting five different writers from five different countries. Representatives from UNESCO Cities of Literature in Ireland, New Zealand, Poland and Scotland will be joining Valur bringing their experience as writers and their knowledge about their local literature to the UK. 

Valur, who has written extensively as a journalist in Iceland, as well as freelancing as a local correspondent for the Associated Press and The Guardian, first came into the public eye as a fiction writer when he published a collection of poems called A Fool for Believing in 2004, for which he was awarded a newcomer‘s prize at a poetry conference in Washington DC. He has since written three novels, Konungur norðursins (The King of the North, 2007), Síðasti elskhuginn (The Last Lover, 2013) and Örninn og fálkinn (The Eagle and the Falcon, 2017), which have been well received.

Valur is looking forward to returning to Norwich - albeit virtually - having recently been a doctoral student in creative writing at the University of East Anglia, which is widely regarded as the most prestigious programme of the kind in the country, counting many prized authors among its alumni, including writers such as Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro and Booker Prize winners Ian McEwan and Anne Enright. 

His projects while virtually residing in Norwich will be i.a. participating in podcasts and webcasts, as well as introducing literature concerning Reykjavík, ranging from the first actual Reykjavík-story, Vögguvísa (Lullaby, 1950) by Elías Mar, till the present day. Valur added that German born writer W.G. Sebald, one of Norfolk‘s most noted authors, had written a remarkable book touching on his reflections while wandering along the shores of Norfolk. Valur is planning on following his footsteps - although in Reykjavík – jotting down his thoughts regarding Reykjavík‘s literature. 

Norwich, Reykjavík, Dublin, Dunedin, Edinburgh and Krakow are all UNESCO Cities of Literature within the wider UNESCO Creative Cities Network. The authors taking part in the residency in addition to Valur Gunnarsson are Linn Buckle, Liz Breslin, Vahni Capildeo and Marcin Wilk. 

See an introduction of all five authors on the National Centre for Writing's website.