City of Literature - Projects


Reykjavík—UNESCO City of Literature—is a cultural office dedicated to sharing literature and the art of words with residents and visitors of the city.

It promotes reading initiatives for children and adults, supports the growth of the literary and word craft scene in the city, and ensures that Reykjavík's rich literary history is accessible throughout the city land.

As a promoter of Reykjavík's image as a city of word craft, both domestically and internationally, it participates in global efforts alongside other UNESCO Creative Cities and more.

The City of Literature operates under the guiding principles of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

The Book Fair

The Association of Icelandic Book Publishers and Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature are behind the Book Fair (I. Bókamessan), which has been held annually in Reykjavík since 2011.

Publishers, authors, and readers come together this weekend where literature takes center stage. A diverse and entertaining literary program is offered, and readers can grab hot-off-the-press books at good prices directly from publishers.

Admission is free.

City of Reykjavík Children's Book Award

The Reykjavík City Children's Book Award is awarded annually and, in keeping with tradition, is handed out on the last day of winter during a formal ceremony at Höfði.

The Reykjavík City Children's Book Award has the longest history of such awards in Iceland, with their main aim being to highlight accomplished works in book publishing for young readers and encouraging them to read.

The Children's Book Award and related projects are carried out in collaboration of the School & Recreation Council and the Culture, Sports & Leisure Council of Reykjavík City in the City of Literature.

The award is presented to authors, illustrators, and translators of children's books for ambitious writing and translations for children. The aim of these esteemed awards is to draw attention to the importance of quality literature for children and young people, and to outstanding achievements in this vital sector of Icelandic book publishing.

The Award is thus threefold, that is it is presented for the best original Icelandic children's book, the best translation of a children's book into Icelandic, and the best illustration in an Icelandic children's book.

Fifteen books, five in each category, are nominated for the best original children's and adolescent book, the best translation of a foreign children's and adolescent book, and for the best illustration.

The Reykjavík City Children's Book Award Selection Committee consists of three representatives appointed by the Reykjavík City of Literature UNESCO, the Writers' Union of Iceland, and Fyrirmynd, an illustrators' association.

Guðrún Helgadóttir Children's Book Award

The Guðrún Helgadóttir Children's Book Award was created in 2018 in honor of the writer of Gudrun Helgadottir. The award is given annually for an unprinted manuscript to a book for children or youth to support literary innovation.

What are the awards?

The awardee receives a monetary prize. The prize money is funded by Reykjavík City, and one is awarded annually in the spring concurrent with the presentation of Reykjavík City Children's Literary Awards. The prize amount is one million Icelandic króna.

When is the submission deadline?

The deadline for manuscript submissions for the 2024 competition is March 1, 2024

Submissions to Reykjavík City should be unpublished manuscripts of fiction for children or adolescents, originally written in Icelandic. Manuscripts competing for the award must be submitted in triplicate with a pseudonym, and the author's name and address must accompany it in a sealed envelope. Manuscripts must arrive no later than March 1, 2024.

Envelope's address:

Guðrún Helgadóttir Literary Awards
Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature
Borgartún 12-14
105 Reykjavík

Tómas Guðmundsson Literary Award

The Tómas Guðmundsson Literary Award is awarded each year in memory of Tómas Guðmundsson for an unprinted manuscript of a book of poetry. The Selection Committee for the Award is appointed by the City Executive Council and consists of three individuals.

What are the awards?

The awardee receives a monetary prize. The prize is funded by Reykjavík City and is presented annually at the beginning of winter. In 2022, the amount of the Reward will be 1,000,000 Icelandic krónur.

Who appoints the Selection Committee?

The Selection Committee for the Award is appointed by the Culture & Tourism Council for one-year at a time. It consists of three members: one designated by the Writers' Union of Iceland, another by the Association of Icelandic Publishers, and the third by Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature, which also appoints the chairperson.

How can I participate?

Submit to Reykjavík City an unpublished manuscript of a poetry book originally written in Icelandic. Manuscripts competing for the Award must be submitted in three copies, marked with a pseudonym, with the name and phone number included in a sealed envelope.

Manuscripts must arrive no later than Wednesdays June 1, 2024.

Envelope's address:

Tómas Guðmundsson Literary Award
Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature
Borgartún 12-14
105 Reykjavík

The publication rights for the winning manuscript are retained by the author or the publisher they choose to work with. If the Selection Committee unanimously agrees that none of the received works meet the required standards for the Award, the presentation of the Award may be canceled for that year.

Creative Cities

The UNESCO Creative Cities network consists of cities that boast a cultural heritage in one of seven artistic fields and emphasize cultivating and supporting it in the present. The fields are literature, music, crafts and folk art, film, design, multimedia arts, and gastronomy. Cities can apply for membership in the network, and those cities that gain entry must also demonstrate ambition for the future. Reykjavík was designated a UNESCO City of Literature in 2011.

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network is rapidly growing, with new cities designated every two years. The title is permanent as long as the cities participate in the network's activities and demonstrate a vigorous cultural life in their field, but they must submit progress reports to UNESCO every four years.

UNESCO Creative Cities operate according to the network's guiding principles.

UNESCO Cities of Literature in the order they were designated:

The UNESCO Cities of Literature website features content about the Cities of Literature and other topics that authors and literature enthusiasts might find interesting.

There you can find information for the media and cities interested in joining the network, as well as a general online introduction to the initiative.

Cities that want to join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network must submit an application to UNESCO. These applications are reviewed, and new cities are admitted biennially.

Once part of the network, member cities must provide UNESCO with a status report every four years, which serves as a basis for assessing their qualifications for continued membership.