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The Nordic Council Literature Prize 2018 goes to Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir for Ör

31. October, 2018 News

The Nordic Council Literature Prize 2018 was awarded to Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir for the novel Ör (Hotel Silence, Pushkin Press 2018, translator Brian FitzGibbon) at the Opera House in Oslo, Norway, on 30 October. Auður Ava has been awarded the prize for a work full of subtle humour and sparkling, vital language, which asks the big questions about life and death.

The jury said:

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“I write against the darkness in the world,” says Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir, winner of the Nordic Council Literature Prize 2018. In the novel Ör, we encounter a middle-aged man who takes his literal and metaphorical toolbox with him to a war-torn European country, intent upon putting an end to his life. In the course of his travels, he realises that we all have our own toolbox –what matters is how we choose to use it. This is a small book with a big heart. It is full of subtle humour and sparkling, vital language, which asks the big questions about life and death, about the individual versus the collective, about our privileges, rights and duties. Ultimately, it is duty that provides humanity with the tools to challenge the darkness.

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About the author

Ör is Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir's fifth novel. Her other work includes a collection of poems, plays, and song lyrics for an Icelandic band. She was born in Reykjavik in 1958 and has taught art science and art history at the University of Iceland and at the Iceland Academy of the Arts. She is the head of the University of Iceland's art museum, has curated art exhibitions, and has written about the visual arts and art history topics for newspapers and periodicals. Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir made her debut in 1998 and six years later her second novel won the Bókmenntaverðlaun Tómasar Guðmundssonar literature prize. Her third novel, Afleggjarinn, has been translated into several languages, the English title being The Greenhouse (AmazonCrossing 2011, translated by Brian FitzGibbon). It won the Icelandic women's literature prize, Fjöruverðlaunin, the DV Cultural Prize for Literature, the French Prix du page and the Canadian Prix des libraires du Québec. The novel was nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize in 2009. The novel Ör won the Icelandic Literary Prize in 2017. 

More about Auður Ava and her works.

Ör in translations

Auður Ava dedicated the prize to her translators all around the world but her works have been translated and published in more than twenty countries. Ör has been translated into nine languages and the Icelandic publisher is Benedikt Publishing:

  • Danish translation by Erik Skyum-Nielsen, publisher Batzer & co.
  • Swedish translation by Arvid Nordh, publisher Weiler Forlag
  • French translation by Catherine Eyjólfsson, publisher Zulma
  • Hungarian translation by Katalin Rácz, publisher Polar Könyvek
  • Norwegian translation by Tone Myklebost, publisher Pax forlag
  • English translation by Brian FitzGibbon, publisher Pushkin Press (UK) / Grove Atlantic (USA)
  • Italian translation by Stefano Rosatti, publisher Einaudi
  • Czech translation by Martina Kasparová, publisher Albatros Media
  • Spanish translation by Fabio Teixidó Benedí, publisher Penguin Random House Grupo
  • Portuguese translation, publisher Quetzal 

  • Korean translation, publisher Hangilsa

  • Turkish translation, publisher Nebula


Icelandic author awarded for the eight time

Ólafur Jóhann Sigurðsson (1976), Snorri Hjartarson (1981), Thor Vilhjámsson (1988), Fríða Á. Sigurðardóttir (1992), Einar Már Guðmundsson (1995), Sjón (2005) and Gyrðir Elíasson (2011) have been awarded The Nordic Council Literature Prize, and Auður Ava is the eight Icelandic author to receive the prize.

The Nordic Council Literature Prize has been awarded since 1962 and is given to a work of fiction written in one of the Nordic languages. This may be a novel, a play, or a collection of poems, short stories, or essays that are of a high literary and artistic quality. The prize is designed to generate interest in the literature and language of neighbouring countries, and in the Nordic cultural community.

Five Nordic prizes awarded in Oslo 

Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir, Bárður Oskarsson, Nils Henrik Asheim, Benedikt Erlingsson, Ólafur Egill Egilsson, Marianne Slot, Carine Leblanc and Per Ole Frederiksen, Pâviârak Jakobsen and Nette Levermann from the Attu Natural Resource Council were awarded the five Nordic Council prizes 2018, DKK 350,000 prizes and statuettes, at a gala in the Opera House in Oslo on October 30th.  See here for more information about all prizes and winners.