Iceland's Honorary Participation Garnered Attention at a Recent Book Fair in Gdansk. Icelandic Writers Received a Warm Welcome

11. April, 2019 News

Participating in this event will no doubt further strengthen bonds between Iceland and Poland, kindle mutual interest in the literature of these nations, and increase the number of translations between the two languages, and in fact plans are already underway in that regard.

File9-9-1340664-Last Sunday was the last day of an exceptionally successful three-day book fair held in beautiful weather in the port city of Gdansk in Poland. Iceland was the Guest of Honour at the book fair and the attending Icelandic writers received a very warm welcome from the Polish people who showed great interest in the writers and Icelandic literature. The book fair was very well attended throughout, and the programme was diverse; panel-discussions, readings, workshops, and other well-attended events, which had the venue, the Polish Baltic Philharmonic, bustling with life.

MessugengidIMG_3792The Icelandic Literature Center managed Iceland's participation in Gdansk in collaboration with the book fair's administration, who hosted the Icelandic group. On the opening day, the Icelandic ambassador in Berlin, Martin Eyjólfsson, held the opening speech, and Hrefna Haraldsdóttir, the director of the Icelandic Literarure Center also held a speech, as did the deputy mayor of Gdansk, and the county governor of Pommern.

The writers Hallgrímur Helgason, Einar Kárason, Sigríður Hagalín Björnsdóttir, and Elísabet Kristín Jökulsdóttir were the book fair‘s guests of honour, and participated in panels on their books, Icelandic literature, translations, culture, politics, and other topics that came up in discussion with interviewers and guests who actively participated in the seminars.

IMG_3829_1554292500998Einar Kárason spoke to Agata Lubowicka and Karolina Drozdowska from the Polish translators' association about Nordic literature to a full house. He also participated in panel discussions with his Polish publisher, Marpress, and talked about his novel Storm Birds (Stormfuglar), which is due to be published in Polish in autumn. Einar also granted a radio interview in Gdansk, talking about his works and literature.

IMG_3874_1554292500786Sigríður Hagalín Björnsdóttir spoke to the literary journalist Adam Szaja about her work. Her book Island (Eyland), was published in Poland last year and her novel The Holy Word (Hið heilaga orð) is to be published soon translated into Polish by Jacek Godek. After the event, Sigríður signed copies of Eyland, or Wyspa as it is titled in Polish, and the entire print sold out.

Hallgrimur_1554292399040Hallgrímur Helgason took part in panel discussions on democracy and literature, a pressing topic in Poland at the moment. On the panel with Hallgrímur were Aleksandra Dulkiewicz, mayor of Gdansk who recently took office after the murder of Pawel Adamoqicz, and the author Tomasz Swoboda. Heated discussion took place in a full venue on democracy, language, and the role of the writer and literature in that context.

55929317_2198733363774156_3572269349718720512_oElísabet Kristín Jökulsdóttir also took part in a seminar on her work and life, reading from her book of poetry Love is a Nervous-Breakdown. Dancing at the Terrace Rock (Ástin ein taugahrúga. Enginn dans við Ufsaklett), and the renowned Polish actress, Małgorzaty Brajner, read poems from the book in Polish translation by Jacek Godek to much applause. At the end of the event Elísabet signed copies of the book for those attending.

A seminar was held on the book Heida, the solitary sheep farmer (Heiða – fjalladalabóndinn) by Steinunn Sigurðardóttir, with the Polish actress Karolina Grusza reading excerpts from the book, which prompted some lively and interesting discussions.

A workshop with the translators Jacek Godek, Anna Karen Svövudóttir, and Olga Knasiak was held, enabling guests to try their hand at translating Vísur Vatnsendarósu, with their help, leading to the discovery of some astute ‘translators'.

The entire programme was conducted in Polish with Jacek Godek interpreting for the Icelandic authors. Jacek is one of the most accomplished and active translators of Icelandic literature into Polish, having translated works of all four attending authors, in addition to most of the Icelandic works of literature that have been published in Polish in recent years.

IMG_3715In all, 100 Icelandic books have been translated into Polish, and 85 books from Polish into Icelandic, Poles being the largest group of immigrants in Iceland, or about 6% of the population.

The Icelandic stand displayed new Icelandic books and books by Icelandic authors in Polish translation. The reception surpassed all expectation, Polish readers showed great interest in Icelandic literature and culture, which offers promise for the future. Participating in the book fair will no doubt further strengthen the bond between Iceland and Poland, kindle mutual interest in the literature of these nations, and increase translations between the two languages. One part of follow-up is a translators' seminar held by the Icelandic Literature Centrer in Iceland at the end of April, with a number of Polish translators attending.

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