News of the Fair Literal Barcelona

Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl at the fair Literal 2019

Saturday May 11 at 19h
Fabra I Coats

Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl: The feather that cries out against xenophobia

Saturday May 11 at 19h
Fabra I Coats
With simultaneous English-Catalan translation

Laura Rosel will interview Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl

Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl (Reykjavík, 1978) is an Icelandic writer, translator and poet, considered one of the great avant-garde international poets and one of the most outstanding Icelandic storytellers of his generation. Resident in Ísafjörður, the city of his childhood – 3,500 inhabitants, the largest in the remote West Fjords area – Norðdahl has lived in different parts of the world such as Berlin, Helsinki, Oulu (Finland) or Vietnam. The otherness and the concept of immigration, the basis of the xenophobia that harasses the current world, is one of the nuclei of his poetic and narrative work, with a strong social and experimental component.

Around the year 2000, after a season of combining writing with all kinds of precarious work, he decided to devote himself fully to creation. In 2004 he was one of the founders of the poetry group
Avant-garde Nýhil, a cultural cooperative that published, up to 2011, about fifty works and brought numerous artists from all over the world to its famous festival, the Nýhil Poetry Festival. The group, which also promoted and managed a library of poetry and which organizes, from 2009, "Radical Summer Schools", stood out for its social criticism, for its international vocation and for being one of the important focuses of critical thinking of left around which were forged movements as the famous revolution of Icelandic casseroles of the years 2008 and 2009, precursor for many of the later movements of outraged in Europe.

Norðdahl's poetry, which seeks to impact and transgression through experimental methodologies such as scraps, software translation, Googleig and Flarf poetry, includes works like Handsprengja í
Morgunsárið (a Granada at the Crack de L'Alba, 2007) with Ingólfi Gíslasyni, Ú á fasismann – og fleiri ljóð (Oh the fascist and more poems, 2008) or his series of dictators, conceived as a political essay on cruelty. His way of reading poetry, accelerated and frantic, has become his own rhythm, the basis of his sound poetry, which has since been recited with great success around the world. In 2012, Norðdahl wrote in Illska. La Maldad, his fourth novel, an impressive story about the xenophobia that placed it, almost immediately, to the heart of the best current European narrative. A novel of political love, as it has been defined by the author himself, Illska has been translated into seven languages and has earned, among others, the Icelandic Literature prize and the Icelandic Booksellers, the Transfuge Prize for the best Scandinavian novel or the Médicis Alien. For Norðdahl, committing to the world and to others is natural, human and is also a collective responsibility, and hence his narrative, as well as his poetry, always part of the world that surrounds it.

Illska speaks to us about the Holocaust, on the economic collapse of the 2008, on the myth of the perfect Nordic Europe, on masculinity in the 21st century, on xenophobic populism and the rise of the far right in Europe today. These will be some of the topics that will be put on the table in the interview that will be made by the journalist Laura Rosel in the framework of the fair.

A young, precarious and pagan philologist, a descendant of the victims of the Holocaust investigating the massacres of Jews in Lithuania, and an educated neo-Nazi and dialoguing, are the leading trio of this story, who do not want to be, or from afar, another novel about the Holocaust . "In recent years, the popular history of the Holocaust, as shown by literature and especially cinema, has almost become a fairy tale. And this approach is not only kitsch, but is also a fairly dangerous nonsense ", says Norðdahl. Here the characters are not divided into good and bad, in left-wing or unrational Nazi-socialist heroes. Because xenophobia is sometimes manifested as stupidity, but not much less always. "There is a lot of smart xenophobic in the world", says the author.

Based on the irreverence and humour, of the politically incorrect and of the multiplicity of perspectives, Norðdahl achieves, for example, to draw the colours of the European working class – sometimes convinced that it is the outsiders, and not his condition of workmanship. Wage earners, the cause of its miserable existence – or let us see that the xenophobic may also be a migrant, already installed in its new country of origin. Reflections that revolve around the cyclical propensity of the human being to blame the other and the wickedness as absolute. The final moraline is very simple, according to Norðdahl, "if you can avoid being fascist, please do so". Among his narratives include Heimska (the Stupidity, 2015), a contemporary dyestuge about our addiction to the lives of others and about the ultraviolet that harasses our societies.