Reykjavik International Literary Festival

The Reykjavík International Literary Festival takes place from April 24 - 27. This is the first time the festival has been held in Spring, in recognition of World Book Day. Since 1985, the festival has been held biennially in September. This year‘s agenda is ripe with readings, panels, and lectures, all of which are free and open to the public. The works of the festival‘s diverse international guests are available or forthcoming in Icelandic translation.

This year also marks the centennial celebration of the publication of Nobel prizewinner Halldór Laxness‘ first novel, Barn náttúrunnar (Child of Nature). To commemorate the occasion, an international symposium will be held in his honor. The Orðstír award for the translation of Icelandic literature into foreign languages will also be given for the third time.

Festival Events 

Events will be held in the Nordic House and Iðnó, with exceptionally varied offerings, including readings, lectures, interviews, stand-up comedy, and the Book Ball, a fixture of the literary festival. Nearly twenty foreign authors take part this year, and their works have been, or will soon be, made available in Icelandic. As in previous years, a number of Icelandic authors participate in the program, in concert with international guests. A number of foreign publishers have also been invited to attend the festival to celebrate Icelandic literature and writers, and representatives of the foreign media will be present.

Festival Theme

This year, the festival‘s theme is ‘adaptation‘, referring to the diverse adaptations of text into film, television, and other mediums, as well as the more broad meaning of adaptation to new circumstances in a changing world: global climate change, language change, and our own adaptation to new homes and homelands.

As in 2017, the festival will start with a bang at Culture House Hof in Akureyri in north Iceland. There, a schedule of literary events featuring foreign and local authors and readers will be held on the April 23. The events in Culture House Hof have been arranged in collaboration with the Akureyri Cultural Society.

Orðstír Translator Award

During the festival, Orðstír, an award given biennially to two foreign language translators for their work with Icelandic literature, will be presented for the third time since 2015. The award is made possible by the support of Islandsstofa, the Icelandic Literature Centre, the Icelandic Translators‘ and Interpreters‘ Association, and the Office of the President of Iceland.

New International Award in the name of Halldór Laxness

A new international literary prize, named after Halldór Laxness, will be awarded for the first time at the festival. The Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Education and Culture, Promote Iceland, the Laxness Museum (Gljúfrasteinn), the Reykjavík International Literary Festival, and Forlagið—Laxness’ publisher in Iceland— teamed up to found this new prize, which carries a 15,000 euro award. 

Laxness Symposium

An international symposium will be held in honor of Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness, in a centennial commemoration of the publication of his first novel Barn náttúrunnar (Child of Nature). In collaboration with Gljúfrasteinn and the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages, the event is an extension of a symposium held in Laxness’ honor in Oslo last November. 

On this occasion, the Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature adds a guided Laxness walk in English to its app, Reykjavik Culture Walks. The walk takes you around sites relevant to Laxness' life and works in downtown Reykjavík. The walk will be in the app as off the festival launch.

Childen's Programme

The festival also includes a childrens‘ programme, organized for young readers, which features story time events and opportunties for children to express and embrace creativity. The childrens‘ program will take place at the Nordic House.

Free and Open to All

All events are free and open to the public. The festival is held primarily in English, but authors will read in their native languagse, accompanied by projected Icelandic and English translations. The childrens‘ programme will be held in Icelandic.

Attendees‘ books will be available for purchase at the local bookstores Eymundsson.

You can read about the authors and the festival on the Reykjavik International Literary Festival website


The Reykjavík International Literary Festival is made possible by the support of the Ministry of Education and Culture, Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature, Nordic House, the Society of Icelandic Publishers, and the Icelandic Literature Centre. The festival is partly funded by generous grants from various donors, and is held in cooperation with a number of centers, societies, and associations.