Bragi Ólafsson @ The Scandinavia House
Where: Scandinavia House, 58 Park Avenue (@ 38th Street), New York, NY
Sturla Jón Jónsson, the fifty-something building superintendent and sometimes poet, has been invited to a poetry festival in Vilnius, Lithuania, appointed, as he sees it, as the official representative of the people of Iceland to the field of poetry. His latest poetry collection, published on the eve of his trip to Vilnius, is about to cause some controversy in his home country—Sturla is publicly accused of having stolen the poems from his long-dead cousin, Jónas.
Then there’s Sturla’s new overcoat, the first expensive item of clothing he has ever purchased, which causes him no end of trouble. And the article he wrote for a literary journal, which points out the stupidity of literary festivals and declares the end of his career as a poet. Sturla has a lot to deal with, and that’s not counting his estranged wife and their five children, nor the increasingly bizarre experiences and characters he’s forced to confront at the festival in Vilnius.
Bragi Ólafsson’s most recent work The Ambassador is a quirky novel that’s filled with insightful and wry observations about aging, family, love, and the mysteries of the hazelnut. It was a finalist for the 2008 Nordic Literature Prize and received the Icelandic Bookseller’s Award as Best Novel of the Year.
Ólafsson was born in Reykjavík, and may be most well known for playing bass in The Sugarcubes, Björk’s first band. After recording three albums and touring the world, he quit making music and turned to writing. He is the author of several books of poetry and short stories, and four novels, including Party Games, for which he received the DV Cultural Prize in 2004. He is also a founder of the publishing company Smekkleysa (Bad Taste), and has translated Paul Auster’s City of Glass into Icelandic.
Co-presented in collaboration with Open Letter Books.