By Erin Cox
This year at The Frankfurt Book Fair, Iceland is the Guest of Honor. Here is what some writers from around the world say about Iceland’s literary impact:
“In the late 1990s, I’d thrown away all the early versions of The Corrections. I was getting nowhere, looking for a new style and a new topic, trying to become a different author. At that point, I came across two books: Independent People by Halldor Laxness and A Personal Matter by Kenzaburo Oe. I’d begun to think that nothing would ever really grab me again, but these two did. When I’d got into a blind alley with The Corrections, these two books showed me the way out.” –Jonathan Franzen, author of The Corrections and Freedom.
“One of the most remarkable traits of the Icelanders is their devotion to books. Their own venerable literary culture is as vibrant for them as if it has been created only yesterday; at the same time, they are aware of all the new movements in world literature and they read copiously in many languages.” –J. M. Coetzee, winner of The Nobel Prize for Literature and author of The Life and Times of Michael K
“The Literature of Iceland is characterized by its great breadth. If you had to describe it in a few simple words, you could say we appreciate well-told stories. For centuries, the Icelanders’ image of themselves has been closely tied to their literature. That’s why I find it especially gratifying to see the wide variety of publications appearing this year in German translation. I hope the Icelandic literature, which is filled with adventurous characters, will inspire readers to undertake their own journeys of discovery to the world of our books.” –Arnaldur Indridason, author of Silence of the Grave