Olafsson, Bragi

It was not widely known in literary circles that Bragi Ólafsson, bass player in the Icelandic rock band Sugarcubes, published a volume of poetry in 1986, when the band was at its peak and attracting international attention with song Ammæli/Birthday. In fact the band also ran a publishing company Smekkleysa (Bad Taste) under the motto of “world domination or death”. The company is still running, mainly publishing music, old and new, and books (among them some of Bragi Ólafsson's works), outside the mainstream.

After the Sugarcubes adventure, Bragi Ólafsson devoted himself to literature, publishing poetry, short stories and prose and a number of successful plays. His first novel, Hvíldardagar (Days of Repose) appeared in 1999 and Sendiherrann (2006) is his fourth. Ólafsson is among Iceland’s most original and best modern writers. His first two novels were nominated for the Icelandic Literary Prize, his 2004 novel Samkvæmisleikir (Party Games) was awarded the DV Cultural Prize, and Sendiherrann was nominated for the Nordic Literary Prize in 2008.

Bragi Ólafsson is renowned for his mixture of surrealistic scenes and ironic style, and his ability to write stories in which almost nothing seems to be happening. His ironic and humorous style reveals an underlying anxiety about the fragility of the existence and evokes urgent ethical and cultural issues.