1988
Thor Vilhjálmsson
1962
2012

1988 Thor Vilhjálmsson, Iceland: Grámosinn glóir

About the author

Thor Vilhjálmsson (1925 - 2011) - Iceland

Thor Vilhjálmsson was born in Edinburgh and studied literature in Reykjavik, Nottingham and at the Sorbonne in Paris. He then played a very active role in Icelandic cultural life and worked in the theatre world and at the National Library of Iceland. Thor Vilhjálmsson has also held a number of posts in Icelandic organisations for writers and artists. He has published novels, collections of short stories, translations and articles on culture. He was long involved in the cultural magazine Birtingur.

About the winning piece

Grámosinn glóir (Justice Undone)

Published by: Svart á hvítu publishing company
Publication year: 1986

Justice Undone is a crime story based on an Icelandic trial dating back to the 19th century when two half-siblings were accused of having committed incest. The novel pivots on the magistrate of the trial who has just returned from his studies in Copenhagen and is contemplating his new life in Iceland, but, of course, also the problem of guilt in the trial. The Icelandic landscape seen by the magistrate from horseback comes across poetically in Thor Vilhjálmsson’s prose style, but contemporary continental influences are also revealed in his formally skilfully written novel.

This is what the Adjudicating Committee had to say

In a language that unites Icelandic narrative tradition with innovative forms of expression it describes a judge’s fateful journey through a magical landscape that reflects in a nuanced way the inner struggle with basic existential questions of guilt and responsibility, poetry and reality.

Excerpt

Tveir menn, fjórir hestar. Blásnir melar með lyngþúfum og mosaþembum ískotnum hreindýramosa, og hvítnar af; hvítnandi rætur, natkar rætur ofan á mold; grjót með skellum af skóf.

Og hreindýramosinn lýsir umhverfis hið næsta, ljósgráhvítur með fjólubláfölum tilbrigðum.
Ofar kom í mýri með grashólmum. Þar eru seytlur og dý með mosa, og snarrót. Fífusund. Enn ofar lækur sem rennur um móa, ofan við lynggróna brekku. Lækurinn hverfur stundum, og kemur svo frussandi út með lágu murri og slitnu hjali. Á bakkanum er sveppur lágvaxinn og grannur, hvítur með rauðri skellu á miðjum hatti einsog þar hafi sletzt blóð úr þjóðsögu. Og fífu ber í ljósgulgræna breiðu með blautan dúk undir sér.
Dropar dýjamosa titra, glitra einsog smágerð djásn.

(s. 30-31, Svart á hvítu, 1986)

See all nominated in 1988  

Denmark

  • Vita Andersen - Hva'for en hånd vil du ha'
  • Henrik Nordbrandt - Under mausolæet

Finland

  • Christer Kihlman - Gerdt Bladhs undergång
  • Leena Krohn - Tainaron

Iceland

  • Steinunn Sigurðardóttir - Tímaþjófurinn
  • Thór Vilhjálmsson - Grámosinn glóir

Norway

  • Tor Åge Bringsværd - Gobi: Djengis Khan
  • Edvard Hoem - Ave Eva: en herregårdsroman

Sweden

  • Lars Ardelius - Barnsben
  • Ernst Brunner - Svarta villan

Faroe Islands

  • Jóanes Nielsen - Tjøradu plankarn - stevna inn i dreymin

The Sami Language Area

  • Nils-Aslak Valkeapää - Ruoktu váimmus