Guest 2012.


Die Rückkehr der Jungfrau Maria
Klett- Cotta
Stuttgart, 2012
[Ü: Tina Flecken]

Bjarni Bjarnason [ Island ]

Bjarni Bjarnason was born in Reykjavík, Iceland, in 1965. He grew up abroad. While still a teenager, he published poems in magazines and newspapers in his country. At the age of twenty he wrote his first play. Shortly after, he published his debut poetry collection »Upphafið« (tr: The Beginning). Bjarnanson’s oeuvre consists of short stories, twelve novels, and an anthology of plays.

His second novel »Endurkoma Maríu« (1996; tr.: The Return of the Virgin Mary) was nominated for the Icelandic Literary Award in 1996. It is the story of a professor for theology, whose grandson meets a mysterious young woman. Strange things happen in her world, and she is haunted by visions. She has a remarkable resemblance with Mary, wherefore the professor predicts the Virgin’s return and, as a consequence, is expelled from university. The author explained that his intention was not to write a book about the Holy Virgin. Rather, he began to write about this woman, and then all of a sudden realized that she resembled Mary. Only then did the Bible come into play. The book turned out to be an impressive work, partly romance, partly a thriller and theological speculation. The novel is based on the Icelandic narrative tradition, which, according to Bjarnason, only becomes evident when – unlike most literary texts produced on the island – it does not associate Iceland with the idea of a particularly mystical and exotic land. The writer says that this image of Iceland is nothing but a myth. For his novel »Borgin bak við orðin« (tr.: The City Behind the Words) from 1998, Bjarni Bjarnason received the Tómas Guðmundsson Award. »Mannætukonan og maður hennar« (tr.: The Cannibal and her Husband) was awarded the Halldór Laxness Literature Award in 2001. In his latest work »Repute« (2011; tr.: The reputation) Bjarnason is inspired by the Icelandic financial crisis. Its hero, Starkaður Leví, played an important role, when the system collapsed. A few years later he wants to re-establish his reputation, in order to be accepted by the society again – whatever it costs.

Bjarni Bjarnason is a co-founder of the literary magazine »Andblær«, which was launched in 1994 and he publishes predominantly texts by young writers. The author lives in Norway.