After all the anticipation Iceland Noir has been and gone. So did it live up to my expectations? It certainly did. For me the weekend was a great success and from what I could tell everyone else was having a good time too.The programme looked pretty ambitious for an inaugural event with activities taking place over 4 days, authors and attendees of many nationalities and a number of sightseeing opportunities too. But if anything didn’t go as planned then it certainly wasn’t obvious to me. I wasn’t able to attend all the events but started the weekend with some readings at a Reykjavik bar which was hosted by the Icelandic branch of the CWA. Readings by Anne Cleeves and Quentin Bates (in English) were followed by a number of readings in Icelandic – which sounded great even if I couldn’t understand a word.
Friday was a good opportunity for some sightseeing and a chance to explore the city, which although small has a number of museums, galleries and some interesting architecture.
Saturday was packed full of panels, all featuring a mix of British and Icelandic authors as well as a number of other international writers. The event took place at the Nordic House, a venue that really seemed to epitomise the weekend’s programme. It is a cultural institution with the aim of fostering and supporting cultural connections between Iceland and the other Nordic countries – and for the duration we Brits felt included in this spirit. It is also the only building in Iceland designed by an internationally acclaimed architect.
The panels ranged from those focusing on the importance of location (both specifically the North and time and place), the good and bad in crime fiction making it from book to screen, and the experiences of those who have self-published crime fiction. There were more in-depth interviews featuring Agatha Christie expert Dr John Curran and another with Anne Cleeves. I found the panel concerning “the perils of translation” to be particularly interesting. As someone who can only ever hope to read crime fiction in English it is always fascinating to hear about how books are translated and how much influence the translator can have on the final work. This was also the panel that featured the Special Guest of Honour Arnaldur Indriðason – who to my mind sounded a lot like Sean Connery! Don’t be put off by the fact that he has a rather gloomy central character – he may come across as dour, but he has quite a sense of humour. This panel could have gone on a lot longer for me – there are a huge number of issues to explore, and one of the top topics must be how to get more Icelandic work translated into English. Having heard a number of authors speak it was disappointing to find that their books have yet to be translated (for example Ragnar Jónasson, one of the organisers) or that translation isn’t taking place in series order, as is the case with Norwegian author Jørn Lier Horst. The main proceedings wrapped up with a final panel considering if crime really does pay. The panel was deftly moderated by Jake Kerridge – no mean feat when the participants were Maxim Jakubowski, Susan Moody, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Zoe Sharp and Ævar Örn Jósepsson.
Although a busy day there was plenty of time to chat to the authors and other crime fiction fans, although I still didn’t manage to speak to all the people I would have liked to.
Following a Christmas buffet at a very smart hotel a small number of us set off by coach to “hunt” for the Northern Lights. Sadly we weren’t successful, but nevertheless it was quite some experience to stand outside, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, with more stars than I think I have ever seen before, the Nordic chill and the complete silence – not something you can do in the south of England.
There was a further reading event on Sunday evening but flights, leave etc. meant that I was on a plane on the way home when it was taking place, but from what I can see via twitter this was another enjoyable event.
This was my first trip to Iceland and I’m sure it won’t be my last. After all I still have to hunt down those Northern Lights, and then there’s Iceland Noir 2014!
You can see more posts about the events that took place on Crimepieces.