23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Bjarni Bjarnason
© Hartwig Klappert

Bjarni Bjarnason

Bjarni Bjarnason was born in 1965 in Reykjavík, Iceland, but grew up abroad. His poems were published in national magazines and newspapers while he was still in his teens. He wrote his first play by the time he was twenty, and shortly thereafter a first volume of poetry titled »Upphafið« (tr. The beginning). To date Bjarnason has written a collection of short stories, a collection of one act play’s, two books of poetry, ten novels, one collection of essays on literature and society, and a Dream-Journal.

Nominated for the Icelandic Literary Prize in 1996, Bjarnason’s second novel »Endurkoma Maríu« (1996; Eng. »The Return of the Divine Mary«, 2014) tells of the grandson of an esteemed theologian who meets a mysterious young woman afflicted by visions, and around whom strange things happen. Her striking resemblance to the Blessed Virgin prompts the professor to declare that the Virgin Mary has returned, for which he is subsequently expelled from the university. Bjarnason has said that he initially had no intention of writing about the Holy Mother, but once he became aware of the similarities, the story took on a biblical dimension. All in all, this impressive work is part romance, part thriller and part theological speculation. It follows the Icelandic narrative tradition, which, according to Bjarnason, only reveals itself if – unlike most literary works produced on the island – it refrains from referring to Iceland as this mystical and exotic place; which is a myth in itself. For his novel »Borgin bak við orðin« (tr. The city behind the words) published in 1998, Bjarni Bjarnason received the Tómas Guðmundsson Award. »Mannætukonan og maður hennar« (tr. The cannibal and her husband) received the Halldór Laxness Literature Award in 2001. »Mannorð« (2011; Eng. »Reputation«, 2017) examines the Icelandic financial crisis, in which the novel’s hero, Starkaður Leví, plays a decisive role. Some years later, he attempts to restore his reputation – at any cost – in order to be accepted by society. Bjarnasons most recent novel »Hálfsnert stúlka« (2014; tr. Half-touched girl) uses psychoanalytic rhetoric to examine death and loss, and the eventualities of encountering specters of the conscious and unconscious mind. »Time is an important element in all his novels; their imagery is influenced by ancient myths and invested with a fairy tale atmosphere while simultaneously referring to modern phenomena,« according to the publication »A History of Icelandic Literature«.

Bjarni Bjarnason’ books have been translated to four languages; Faroese, Arabic, English and German. He co-founded the literary magazine »Andblær« in 1994, which primarily publishes works by young writers. The author lives with his wife, Katrín Júlíusdóttir, Icelands former minister of finance, and their four boy´s, in Reykjavík.


Borgin bak við orðin
Reykjavík, 1998
Mannætukonan og maður hennar
Reykjavík, 2001
Reykjavík, 2011
Die Rückkehr der Jungfrau Maria
Stuttgart, 2012
[Ü: Tina Flecken]
Hálfsnert stúlka
Reykjavík, 2014