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Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl
Photo: Erik Brunulf.

Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl

Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl (1978) is an Icelandic poet and novelist. For his novel Illska (Evil, 2012) he was awarded The Icelandic Literary Prize and The Book Merchant’s Prize, as well as being nominated for the Nordic Council’s Literary Award. When it came out in France in 2015 it was shortlisted for the Prix Médicis Étranger, the Prix Meilleur Livre Étranger and received the Transfuge award for best nordic fiction 2015. In 2012 he was poet-in-residence at the Library of Water in Stykkishólmur, in 2013 he was chosen artist of the year in Ísafjörður and in 2014 he was writer-in-residence at Villa Martinson in Sweden.

Since his debut in 2002 he has published six books of poems, most recently Hnefi eða vitstola orð (Fist or words bereft of sense, 2013), five novels and two collections of essays. Eiríkur is also active in sound and performance poetry, visual poetry, poetry film and various conceptual poetry projects.

Eiríkur has translated over a dozen books into Icelandic, including a selection of Allen Ginsberg’s poetry and Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn (for which he received the Icelandic Translation Award), but most recently Ida Linde’s Maskinflickans Testamente. He lives in Ísafjörður, Iceland, a rock in the middle of the ocean, and spends much of his time in Västerås, Sweden, a town by a lake.

Illska / Evil

The momentum of world history: Agnes Lukauskas and Omar Arnarson meet early one piercing-cold Sunday morning in the taxi queue in the centre of Reykjavik. Three years later Omar burns their house to the ground, drives to Keflavik and abandons the country by plane. The story actually begins long before then, in the summer of 1941, when half of the residents of the small Lithuanian town of Jurbarkas are slaughtered in the surrounding forest. Two of Agnes’ greatgrandfathers were in the massacre – one shot the other – and three generations later Agnes has made the holocaust the centre point of her own life. Her obsession leads her to Arnor, a literate Neo-Nazi.

Evil is about the holocaust and about love, about Iceland and Lithuania, about Agnes who becomes lost in herself while Jon Baldvin Hannibalsson, Icelandic ambassador in Lithuania, acknowledges the independence of the Baltic countries and Lithuanian criminals begin operating from Reykjavik, about Agnes who doesn’t know whether she is a fan of the B-Ranking World Champions in Handball or of Bogdan Kowalczyk, about Agnes who loves Omar who loves Agnes who loves Arnor.

Sold to: Germany (Klett-Cotta), France (Métailie), Denmark (Ordenes By), Greece (Polis), US/UK (Dalkey Archive) and Sweden (Rámus).

"The birth of a very, very great writer."
Livres Hebdo / France
"Demanding, touching, valuable reading."
Musik Express / Germany
"Illska, the title sounds like a cry, like the sound of a blade in the night. But it is a bomb that comes at you. A work of a rare caliber, strength, humor and scale that grabs you from the start and deposits you back on earth, 650 pages later, in a very different state of consciousness."
Lire / France
“[Evil] is a journey; dense, long and sometimes wildly funny. And Norðdahl is a virtuoso."
Marie Claire / France
“When Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl writes novels you must hold on to your hat so it won’t blow off."
Sveriges Radio / Sweden
"It is undoubtedly the most unusual book this season: An Icelander called Eirikur Orn Norddahl has succeeded in writing a novel that gathers under the same roof the Holocaust, the economic crisis, the rise of neo-Nazis in Europe and an unusually frank love triangle.“
Profile / Germany
"A stroke of brilliance."
Les Echos / France
"A major work in every sense … very strong impact … masterfully written …"
Kiljan, National Broadcasting Service / Iceland
"This book is a monster. A loud, nasty, mean, violent, feverish, and sometimes delicate, vulnerable and sensitive monster. It scratches and bites, rumbles your stomach in order to make your heart large and wide."
Stadtbekannt Wien / Austria
"Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl has written a cruel, sometimes cruelly funny book about how ideology and history permeates our most intimate spheres."
Der Spiegel / Germany
“[Evil] is a literary tour de force."
Le Matricule des Anges / France
"Here you’ll not find a trace of the clichés and unimaginative writing so easily associated with authors taking on the past. Instead of raising a judgmental finger Norðdahl grabs history by the throat and doesn't let go until 560 dizzying, thought-provoking, playful, violent and completely brilliant pages later."
Kristiansstadsbladet / Sweden
"An exceptional contemporary novel. MAGNIFICENT. Wildly funny and incredibly intelligent."
Bodil Malmsten / Sweden
“Crazy book! Read it! ... So masterfully done, original and fantastic that it is just overwhelming.”
Fréttablaðið daily / Iceland
"Evil is twisted, crazy, stubborn, cheekily good. If you appreciate the kind of literature that is completely different from anything else you might know, then you need to read Evil."
Denglers-Buchkritik, Germany
"This year’s best and most unique novel."
Göteborgs-Posten / Sweden
“I don't remember having read a better book in Icelandic. Haven't I said enough? What on earth should I add to that? I’m telling you to read the book.”
truflun.net blog, Iceland
“Evil is a clear conversation with the present. … Norðdahl is a complete genius … There's never a dead spot in the work. … As a political work, Evil is a pure masterpiece.”
DV daily / Iceland
“... a beautiful and expansive novel, a tremendous feat I must say, about injured people wandering around an ailing world in all its misery – and splendour.”
“Norðdahl has made himself a place amongst the most progressive and daring authors of his generation with his work.”
Víðsjá, National Broadcasting service

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