13 April 11 | Chad W. Post | Comments

As announced yesterday, Icelandic author Gyrðir Elíasson has won the 2011 Nordic Council Literature Prize for his short story collection Milli trjánna.

From the Adjudicating Committee (! — great name . . . we don’t use the word “adjudicating” near enough in our modern vernacular):

“The Icelandic author Gyrðir Elíasson has won the Nordic Council Literature Prize 2011 for his short story collection Milli trjánna for stylistically outstanding literary art which depicts inner and outer threats in dialogue with world literature.”

Here’s a bit from Jón Yngvi Jóhannsson’s write-up of Milli trjánna:

If anyone wonders where August Strindberg ended up after his death, the answer can be found in Gyrðir Elíasson’s latest collection of short stories, Milli trjánna. Here we meet Strindberg sitting all alone in the canteen in IKEA in Iceland surrounded by shoppers stuffing themselves with Swedish meatballs and cowberry jam. The short story is called Inferno, of course! In some of the book’s other short stories the reader meets the saddened musical brothers who are burying their father, the undertaker, amongst the potatoes in his kitchen garden, another musician who discovers a blank gravestone in his boxroom and last but not least, a black dog. The characters and the surroundings have become familiar to Icelandic readers with a knowledge of the author’s previous works but will probably seem a little strange to foreign readers.

The short stories are woven into each other, and there are references to Gyrðir Elíasson’s previous writings as well as older literature, not least Nordic. From the beginning of his career Gyrðir Elíasson has built up a unique universe, a world where individual texts are reinforced by the whole that they form a part of, almost as if all his production is a colossal borderless text that grows with each new poem or tale.

It’s worth noting that in 2008, Gyrðir Elíasson’s Stone Tree was translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb and published in the UK by Comma Press.

And for more info on Icelandic Literature, be sure to check out Fabulous Iceland a special website that was created to promote Icelandic lit and culture before the 2011 Frankfurt Book Fair, where Iceland will reign supreme as the Guest of Honor.

2 December 09 | E.J. Van Lanen | Comments

The nominations for the Nordic Council Literature Prize 2010 were announced yesterday:

Peter Laugesen
Fotorama (Photorama)
Poetry collection, Forlaget Borgen 2009

Ida Jessen
Børnene (The Children)
Novel, Forlaget Gyldendal 2009

Sofi Oksanen
Puhdistus (Purge)
Novel, WSOY 2008

Monika Fagerholm
Glitterscenen (The Glitter Scene)
Roman, Söderströms och Albert Bonniers Förlag 2009

Einar Kárason
Ofsi (Fury)
Novel, Mál og menning 2008 (Danish translation by Kim Lembek)

Steinar Bragi
Konur (Women)
Novel, Mál og menning 2008 (Swedish translation by Inge Knudson)

Karl Ove Knausgård
Min kamp 1 (My Struggle, Part 1)
Novel, Förlaget Oktober 2009

Tomas Espedal
Imot kunsten (notatbøkene) (Towards Art (the notebooks))
Novel, Gyldendal 2009

Steve Sem-Sandberg
De fattiga i Łódź (The Destitutes of Lodz)
Novel, Albert Bonniers Förlag 2009

Ann Jäderlund
Vad hjälper det en människa om hon häller rent vatten över sig i alla sina dagar (What Does It Help A Person If She Pours Clean Water Over Herself For All Of Her Days)
Poetry collection, Albert Bonniers Förlag 2009

Faroe Islands
Gunnar Hoydal
Í havsins hjarta (In the Heart of the Sea)
Novel, Forlaget Sprotin 2007 (Danish translation by Jette Hoydal)

The winner will be announced 30 March 2010. If I were a betting man, I’d put my money down on Karl Ove Knausgård.

Dinner by César Aira
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

César Aira dishes up an imaginative parable on how identity shapes our sense of belonging with Dinner, his latest release in English. Aira’s narrator (who, appropriately, remains nameless) is a self-pitying, bitter man—in his late fifties, living again with. . .

Read More >

We're Not Here to Disappear
We're Not Here to Disappear by Olivia Rosenthal
Reviewed by Megan C. Ferguson

Originally published in French in 2007, We’re Not Here to Disappear (On n’est pas là pour disparaître) won the Prix Wepler-Fondation La Poste and the Prix Pierre Simon Ethique et Réflexion. The work has been recently translated by Béatrice Mousli. . .

Read More >

The Queen's Caprice
The Queen's Caprice by Jean Echenoz
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

Even though the latest from Jean Echenoz is only a thin volume containing seven of what he calls “little literary objects,” it is packed with surprises. In these pieces, things happen below the surface, sometimes both literally and figuratively. As. . .

Read More >

French Concession
French Concession by Xiao Bai
Reviewed by Emily Goedde

Who is this woman? This is the question that opens Xiao Bai’s French Concession, a novel of colonial-era Shanghai’s spies and revolutionaries, police and smugglers, who scoot between doorways, walk nonchalantly down avenues, smoke cigars in police bureaus, and lounge. . .

Read More >

Anna Karenina
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

For the past 140 years, Anna Karenina has been loved by millions of readers all over the world. It’s easy to see why: the novel’s two main plots revolve around characters who are just trying to find happiness through love.. . .

Read More >

The Cold Song
The Cold Song by Linn Ullmann
Reviewed by David Richardson

Linn Ullmann’s The Cold Song, her fifth novel, is built much like the house about which its story orbits: Mailund, a stately white mansion set in the Norwegian countryside a few hours drive from Oslo. The house, nestled into the. . .

Read More >

This Life
This Life by Karel Schoeman
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .

Read More >