13 April 11 | Chad W. Post

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.


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