1992
Fríða Á. Sigurðardóttir
1962
2012

1992 Fríða Á. Sigurðardóttir, Iceland: Meðan nóttin líður

About the author

Photo: Jóhann Páll Valdimarsson

Fríða Á. Sigurðardóttir (1940 - 2010) - Iceland

Fríða Áslaug Sigurðardóttir was born in Hesteyri in Sléttuhreppur. She graduated with a degree in Icelandic and literature in 1979. Before that, she worked as a librarian and teacher. She made her debut as a writer in 1980 with a collection of short stories and subsequently published a number of novels and collections of short stories over the years. She was also a translator, having, for instance, translated works by Doris Lessing and Jean M. Auel into Icelandic.

About the winning piece

Meðan nóttin líður (Night Watch)

Published by: Forlagið
Publication year: 1990

Night Watch can, on the face of it, be read as a family saga, but it also questions its own genre, its form being conventional least of all. Nina, the narrator of the novel, is, on the surface, a successful businesswoman in the advertising world. But she is also another woman harbouring the memories of the lives of four generations of women when she is sitting at her mother’s deathbed. These two levels of experience combine in Nina’s story in a subjective and fragmented way, but, at the same time, her memories and experience explain the contrasts between old female roles and modern ways of living.

This is what the Adjudicating Committee had to say

The novel is at once a bold, innovative and poetic beauty. The work goes back into the past searching for life values which have a message for our time. It takes place partly in the magnificent nature of northwest Iceland and the description of the countryside is part of the text's magic. The book does not attempt to give the illusion that we can fully understand our ancestors’ reality. It questions while also being experimental. In this book, Fríða Á. Sigurðardóttir lyrically describes our need for history and narrates and illustrates how difficult it is to find to trace a single truth about life and art.

Excerpt

Sit hér aftur.

Í þessum óþægilega stól.
Orðin flækt í eitthvað sem ég losna ekki úr.
Það var Marta sem vakti mig. Í morgun. Hafði sofnað einhvern tíma í morgunsárið út frá Katrínu og þessari makalausu ferð, horfið inn í draumlausan svefn. „Vaknaðu,“ sagði hún og hristi mig, „vaknaðu Nína!“ Og ég aftur orðin stelpa og hún yfir mér, ætlarðu að koma þér í skólann, upp með þig, heift í rómnum, og rödd mömmu, Nína mín vaknaðu, og Marta, þú lætur allt eftir henni, og mamma, svona Marta far þú bara af stað, ég skal sjá um Nínu. Svo gamalkunnugt, allt að því notalegt, og ég teygði úr mér, ætlaði að draga sængina upp fyrir höfuð, bara fimm mínútur enn –
En þá rödd Mörtu um leið og ég hreyfði mig til í stólnum, „Hvaða blaðafargan er þetta?“ og ég hrökk upp, sá blöðin fossa úr kjöltunni á mér beint í hendur Mörtu.
„Komdu með þetta!“ sagði ég snöggt og greip út eftir þeim, röddin hvassari en ég ætlaði mér.


(s. 79, Forlagið, 1999)


And here I sit, again.
On this uncomfortable chair.
Involved in something  I cannot get away from.
It was Martha who woke me up. This morning. Thinking about Katherine and her extraordinary trip, I had fallen asleep some time around dawn – a dreamless sleep. ‘Wake up,’ she said, shaking me. ‘Wake up, Nina.’ I was a girl once more, with her looming over me – you’ll be late for school, now get up – her voice angry, and Mother’s voice – Nina, my dear, wake up – then Martha’s again – you’re always giving in to her – Mother’s – there there, now, Martha, you just run along. I’ll look after Nina. So familiar, almost cosy. I stretched my limbs, intending to pull the coverlet over my head for just five more minutes...
But the moment I stir in the chair Martha’s voice says , ‘What’s this mess of papers?’ and I jump to my feet so abruptly that the papers get flushed out of my lap straight into Martha’s arms.
‘You give that to me,’ I say quickly, my voice sharper than I had intended.

(p. 63, Mare’s Nest, 1993)

See all nominated in 1992  

Denmark

  • Anne Marie Ejrnæs - Sneglehuset
  • Søren Ulrik Thomsen - Hjemfalden

Finland

  • Olli Jalonen - Johan ja Johan
  • Ulla-Lena Lundberg - Stora världen

Iceland

  • Fríða Á Sigurðardóttir - Meðan nóttin líður
  • Þorsteinn frá Hamri - Vatns götur og blóðs

Norway

  • Kjell Askildsen - Et stort øde landskap
  • Roy Jacobsen - Seierherrene

Sweden

  • Ingmar Bergman - Den goda viljan
  • Göran Sonnevi - Trädet

Greenland

  • Frederik Nielsen - Nunaga siunissat qanoq ippa?