Iceland – the country where one man out of ten publishes a book!

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Leo Radutz
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Scris de 
Leo Radutz
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_70461013_reykjavik_corbisIceland is going through an experience of the publishing boom. The Icelandic nation, which has no more than 300,000 inhabitants, has more writers, more books published and more books read, than any of the other countries in the world!

It's very hard to avoid a writer in Reykjavik.

There is even a saying in this country: "ad ganga med bok I maganum", which would literally translate to "everyone has a book in their stomach" and which refers to the fact that many Icelanders write books. Statistics show that one in ten Icelanders will publish a book in the course of his life. This says a lot!

Doesn't this imply more competition?

Kristin Eirikskdottir, a young writer, responds: " Yes, for me it is really a challenge. I live with my mother and partner who are both full-time writers! But we're trying to publish our works in different years, so there's not too much competition."

"Saga" stories are another Icelandic tradition. Dating approximately from the thirteenth century, Icelandic sagas are stories that belong to ancient Scandinavian literature, in which historical facts are intertwined with mythological elements, they tell the story of the Scandinavian peoples who began to reach the island starting with the ninth century.

Sagas continue to be written and nowadays, they are written right on napkins or coffee mugs. Each geyser or waterfall encountered on the island has its own story with heroes and heroines. Public banks have barcodes, so you can listen to a story on your smartphone while you sit on the bench! UNESCO has designated Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, City of Literature.

_70444858_icelandfestival2Of course, there are many book festivals in Reykjavik, "Writers are highly respected here and some even have salaries" , says Agla Magnusdottir who is the Director of the Icelandic Literature Center.

"Our writers write about everything – modern sagas, poetry, children's books, literary and erotic fiction – but the biggest interest is the segment of the cop novel."

This is probably a surprise to a Nordic country, but the sales differences of the police novels are astonishing, being double that of any of the neighboring Nordic countries.

Solvi Bjorn Siggurdsson an Icelandic novelist says that writers of the present owe much to the past:

,, We are a nation of storytellers. In the long nights, and it was dark and cold outside, we had nothing to do but tell stories," he says. "After gaining independence from Denmark in 1944, literature helped define our identity as a nation."

Of course there is also a Nobel Laureate for Literature in Iceland, his name is Halldor Laxness, and his books can be found even in the gas stations and tourist centers on the island!

From the moment Laxness won the prize in 1955, modern Icelandic literature has been put on the map of the world demonstrating the creative potential of the Icelandic people.


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