Steinunn Sigurðardóttir

Steinunn Sigurðardóttir

Novelist, Poet

Steinunn Sigurðardóttir is one of Iceland’s most highly acclaimed novelists and poets and she has contributed greatly to the international recognition of contemporary Icelandic literature. She has been on the literary road since 1969 when she made her debut with a volume of poetry. Two more volumes of poetry were to follow before she tried her hand at prose. Steinunn’s first novel, The Thief of Time/Timathjofurinn was extremely well received. It is also the object of many scholarly essays. Alda, its hero, has been named the most tragic female hero in modern Icelandic literature. In The Thief of Time Steinunn mixes poetry and prose according to her own method, when treating her main themes, time, love and death. The Thief of Time was made into a French feature film, Voleur de Vie, starring Emmanuelle Beart and Sandrine Bonnaire.

Steinunn’s output to date includes twelve novels and seven volumes of poetry. She is also a translator of poetry and prose. She has worked extensively for the media, especially for radio and television. Her work for television includes interviews with a series of writers, most notably with Nobel Prize winner Halldór Laxness and with Iris Murdoch.

Steinunn’s latest novel, Women of Quality/Gædakonur features María Hólm, a heroic volcanologist. Steinunn is currently writing a film script based on her novel.

Steinunn’s other novels include Yo Yo, and Place of the Heart/Hjartastadur, where the author creates her own fresh concept of the road trip novel. The novel won The Icelandic Literary Prize. Its main characters are women, and the central theme is a complicated mother-daughter relationship.

Steinunn’s book about President Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, while she was in office, was an all time bestseller in Iceland.

Steinunn has a degree in psychology and philosophy from University College Dublin. She has lived in Berlin and Paris, and she has spent time in Japan and the United States. She was invited to be pilot author in residence at the University of Strasbourg, 2015, in the programme Écrire l’Europe, where she taught creative writing and gave public lectures e.g. about Halldor Laxness, Thomas Mann and Finnish-Swedish poetess Edith Södergran.

In spite of Steinunn’s strong European ties, her roots are in her native city of Reykjavík and in the Icelandic glacier and lava land close to Vatnajökull where she spent her summers as a child. Icelandic nature is a living element in many of her novels, as well as in her poetry. Beyond that, Steinunn has long been active in the fight to preserve Icelandic nature from further destruction.

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