Sixty Kilos of Sunshine wins Icelandic Literature Prize 2018

The President of Iceland, Mr. Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, presented the Icelandic Literary Prize for 2018 at Bessastaðir, the presidential residence, on the 29th of January 2019. This is the 30th time that the prize is awarded and the ceremony was broadcast live on television. Hallgrímur Helgason was awarded the prize for fiction for his novel Sextíu kíló af sólskini [Sixty Kilos of Sunshine].

Hallgrímur Helgason’s novel is about a tumultuous time in Iceland at the turn of the 20th century, when modernity comes sailing in with great commotion into a small fishing village in the north of Iceland. In the story, readers come across crofters who live in poverty but experience great change and wealth with the arrival of herring and the Norwegians.

In the TV literary programme Kiljan, Hallgrímur said that the novel takes place at the intersection of history when great changes occur in a community where everything had been set in stone. “You couldn’t even go to live in another province if you wanted to without first obtaining permission from the priest or the district administrative officer. But then the Norwegians arrived and disrupted all of this.” Our guide on this journey is young Gestur who gets into all kinds of situations. “I wanted to tell his story, but also a communal story; of how Iceland went from the darkness into the light, from the past into modernity. As he says in the book: “…from nothing to something.”