Iceland exports its authors as a prelude to exporting its books

Who’d be an Icelandic author?
With a population of less than half a million and a language pretty much unique to the island, there is of course no significant publishing industry in the country, and very little chance of earning a living as a writer in the home market.

Remarkably this hasn’t stopped Iceland having its own ebook store, eBaekur, but there are few big western names here, because the size of the country simply doesn’t justify the translation costs.

Which gives local authors some breathing room. But what if they want to make an impact on the outside world?

Luckily some Icelandic authors have the Icelandic Literature Centre to support them, and this month it’s been pretty active, sending almost twenty Icelandic authors and poets around the world to book fairs and literary events to raise the profile of Icelandic literature.

Of course there’s nothing new about authors from one country popping up at book fairs and literary events in another. But as the Global New Renaissance unfolds we are seeing this happen n an unprecedented scale.

In this post I follow the Icelandic authors as they make their global journey, just to remind authors and publishers that the New Renaissance truly is Global, and that no part of the world is excluded.

Earlier this month seven Icelandic authors took part in Les boréales, a book fair in Normandie, France, while elsewhere in France Steinunn Sigurðardóttir and Oddný Eir Ævarsdóttir did readings in Strasbourg Cathedral..

Gerður Kristný attended the Day of Poetry Festival in the Czech Republic and next will be heading off to the George Town Literary Festival in Malaysia.

Icelandic novelist, short story writer and poet Einar Már Guðmundsson went to the 3rd International Literary Festival in Cyprus and then rushed off to Latin America’s biggest open-air book event, the Porto Alegre Book Fair in Brazil.

Poet and novelist, Kristín Ómarsdóttir was present for poetry readings in Ljubljana, Slovenia, while fellow poet Ásta Fanney Sigurðardóttir toured Bratislava, Slovakia.

Writer and former Mayor of Reykjavík Jón Gnarr, along with writer Einar Kárason, gave the ceremonial opening lecture for the Festival of Northern Literature Hamburg, Germany. Einar then raced off to the Faroe Islands to celebrate Icelandic Language Day.

Which is an apposite place to end, because if Iceland seems like the least ideal place to be an author, spare a thought for the writers on the Faroe Islands, with a population of just 50,000 and a local language, Faroese, that is going to have even fewer overseas publishers rushing to get translations out.

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