Life in a Reykjavik Suburb

Life in a Reykjavik Suburb
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Einar Már Gudmundsson
The inhabitants of Grafarvogur have developed a strong sense of community. In this atmosphere, eight well-known writers who live locally have formed a loose association called the Grafarvogur Writers. Eysteinn Thorvaldsson tells of them here. (Translation by Hallberg Hallmundsson.)

Discover more about writing in Iceland today by visiting bokmenntir.

On the northern shore of the city of Reykjavik, there is an area called Grafarvogur. Its name derives from the inlet (Icelandic 'vogur') on one side of this part of the city. Near the head of the inlet, the small salmon river Korpa empties itself into the sea. The open sea, its islands and headlands, form the third side of a triangle that is Grafarvogur, an area of about 1033 hectares. Building here began in 1984. Today, it is the home of some 18 thousand people, a figure set to grow to about 25 thousand. The inhabitants of Grafarvogur have developed a strong sense of community. In this atmosphere, eight well-known writers who live locally have formed a loose association called the Grafarvogur Writers. The Grafarvogur Writers meet once in while to discuss creative writing, and to prepare for cultural activities in the area. In September each year, a festival, Grafarvogur Day, is held in the neighbourhood. Among its features are public readings by the writers. The idea of the writers' group was born one Grafarvogur Day when the writers read from their work. In 2000, they published The Bridge to Videy, a book containing stories and poems by the Grafarvogur Writers which was delivered to all the homes in the area, sponsored by the family service centre Midgardur and the Oddi Printing Plant. Each year, the Grafarvogur Writers present an evening of entertainment in a huge car-spraying workshop in the area called Star Mass. The evening's name is derived from the roomy accommodations of the workshop, a kind of stage made on a 40-year-old flatbed truck, where the Grafarvogur Writers read from their works. Music is played between the readings, and the walls are hung with paintings by contemporary artists. The event always draws a large crowd. The Grafarvogur Writers, however, are not a particularly homogeneous group. Their subjects and methods vary, their books attest to dissimilar careers, and their works ranging over a wide spectrum. Only two of them have devoted themselves to literature, while the others have pursued various other occupations as well. Asked what unites them, the writers answer: 'the neighbourhood, and our interest in literature'.

Transcript thanks Sibba Thrastardottir and Jonina Michealsdottir from the Fund for the Promotion of Icelandic Literature for making this feature possible.












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