Huge year for Icelandic books in German language

Fully 180 different Icelandic books and books about Iceland are being published in German this year. The German book market caters to 100 million people.

Saga Island project managers report increasing interest in Icelandic culture in the German speaking countries.

Iceland is the special guest of honour at this autumn’s Frankfurt Book Fair, which means that Icelandic books and books about Iceland will be especially prominent at the fair, Visir.is reported.

As Saga Island project manager, the author Halldor Gudmundsson has been experiencing the highs and lows of the project preparing to introduce Iceland to German-speaking readers for over three years.

“This is really satisfying for us. The German-speaking market is the one most open to translations. It is a hundred-million person strong linguistic area if we look to Switzerland and Austria as well and I believe that few other countries who have been guests of honour at the book fair can say they have met with as much interest as we have come across among German publishers. We clearly hope this will have an impact on other international markets,” Gudmundsson told Visir.is.

Germans have long been more interested than many other countries in Icelandic history and culture and Gudmundsson believes that interest is only growing stronger: “I don’t know exactly where it comes from. This interest [in Iceland] is very old. It has its roots centuries ago and grew strongly for example in the time of the romantic movement in the 19th Century. We also see it in all the tourists who come here from Germany and their interest in Icelandic music and art. It is a wide-ranging and deep-rooted interest and there is a lot of goodwill.”

Many Icelandic writers are having their work published in German for the first time. Among them is Oskar Hrafn Thorvaldsson, the former head of news at Stod 2 and Visir.is. The Icelandic books coming out in German this year are very varied and range from biographies, to crime novels, to recipe books.