From November 15th to 18th, Iðnó cultural centre in Reykjavík will host the third annual Iceland Noir Festival, seeing crime fiction writers congregate in one of the safest cities in the world to share their stories of murder, mystery and mayhem.

The festival will see both famous and upcoming authors partake in a variety of panel discussions and public readings, while Saturday night sees the bookish let their hair down with the  Icelandic Crime Disco Night.

On Sunday, some lucky guests will also participate in the Iceland Noir Excursion, exploring some of the most haunting, scenic and inspiring spots that are often left unseen by the typical tourist—perfect for the aspiring wordsmith!

Iðnó Theatre & Culture Centre. Credit: Helgi Halldórsson. Wikimedia. Creative Commons.

Reykjavík is one of five UNESCO cities of literature, claiming as its own a handful of the most successful crime fiction writers in history. Popular Icelandic authors on the bill include Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Sólveig Pálsdóttir, Ragnar Jónasson, Eva Björg Ægisdóttir and Jónína Leósdóttir​, among others. Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland, will serve as one of the festival’s guests of honour.

Eliza Reid, the First Lady of Iceland, will also be in attendance, hosting a discussion with her brother, Iain Reid, a bestselling writer in his native Canada. Other foreign attendees include Scottish writer Val McDermid, the Irish novelist, Liz Nugent and journalists such as Karen Robinson of the Sunday Times Crime Club and James Kerridge, crime fiction critic at the Telegraph. A full list of the authors participating in this year’s festival can be found here.

Why Scandinavia has dominated in crime fiction over the last twenty years is up to debate, with some claiming the frozen severity of its nature is perfectly evocative of the genre, while others argue the safe, egalitarian and—some might say—placid societies make violence, intrigue and suspense all the more compelling.

Arnaldur Indriðason is the most well-recognised face in Icelandic crime fiction. Credit: Wikimedia. Creative Commons.

Regardless, Nordic Noir has become a staple of the literary world. Take Arnaldur Indriðason, who has topped the island’s best sellers lists for near 20 years with his acclaimed The Inspector Erlendur Series. The third book of the series, Mýrin (Jar City), was adapted for the silver screen by famed Icelandic director, Baltasar Kormákur. 

Arnaldur has sold over 13 million copies of his books abroad, a staggering number, yet still some way off from the 80 million sold by the late Swedish writer, Stieg Larsson, inarguably the most successful crime writer in history with the posthumously published Millennium Trilogy.

This year’s program is fully packed, with events not just held at Iðnó theatre, but the bar Bryggjan Brugghús, Bíó Paradís cinema and Hotel Reykjavik Centrum. Panel discussions will range from a crime writers’ number one hangover cure to the depravities found in Icelandic folklore, with further added events such as an awards ceremony for best translation and even a screening of the 2017 Icelandic thriller film, “I Remember You”, based on Yrsa Sigurðardóttir’s novel of the same name.

Make sure to check out Iceland Noir’s official website for more information.