Hallgrimur Helgason

Hallgrímur Helgason was born in ReykjavÍk in 1959. He studied Painting at the Academy for Arts and Crafts in Reykjavík and at the Munich Art Academy. He graduated in 1982 and has been an independent artist, cartoonist and writer ever since. His works of visual art – mostly paintings and drawings – have been presented in numerous international individual and group exhibitions.

His first novel »Hella« was published in 1990. Fame came with his third book »101 Reykjavík« (1996), the story of a post-modern vagabond, which established the author’s reputation as a narrator of comical plots that are full of black humour. The novel became even more popular after being turned into a successful film in 2002. Since then, Hallgrímur Helgason has been one of the most-read writers from Iceland. His follow-up novel, »Höfundur Íslands« (2001), is no less absurd, however, much more complex. A very old novelist dies and wakes up in a world which, he eventually comes to realize, is the world of his fiction. Icelandic readers recognized in the figure of the aged writer the Nobel Prize winner Halldór Laxness, whose works dominated the literature of the country for decades. Hallgrímur Helgason has always dealt with the writings of his great colleague in a satirical and critical way. For »Höfundur Íslands« he received the Icelandic Literary Prize and other awards. His next book was the satire »Rokland« (2005), again convincing with an ironic and grotesque style and absurd dialogues. »10 ráð til að hætta að drepa fólk og byrja að vaska upp« (2008) was first written in English and published with the title »The Hitman’s Guide to Housecleaning«. The author himself translated into Icelandic the novel about a contract killer from ex-Yugoslavia, who adopts the identity of a US television evangelist and takes refuge in Iceland. A premiere adaptation of the novel, which has become a bestseller in several countries, was staged at the Schauspielhaus Salzburg in October 2011. Helgason’s most recent grotesque »Konan við 1000°C« (2011; Eng. »The Woman Who Kissed Too Much«, 2009) is based on the true life story of eighty-year old Herra Björnsson, the granddaughter of the first President of the island, who prepares to die in her garage, »together with a laptop and an old hand grenade«, as she tells us in the very first line of the book. The novel discusses the involvement of Icelanders in WWII, and caused a controversy as well as gaining enthusiastic acclaim, when it was published. Helgason has also written a collection of poetry, half a dozen theatre plays, a series of cartoons on his hero Grím and numerous articles and essays for newspapers and the radio. Helgason lives in Reykjavík.

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