Birgisson
2015 Longlist

Reply to a Letter from Helga

Translated from the Icelandic by Philip Roughton
artwork-image

ABOUT
THE BOOK

Bjarni has long held on to a letter from former lover Helga, with whom he shared an illicit, impassioned love. Her letter invited him to leave his wife and his farm and pursue prosperity in the city, where World War 2 had brought an influx of American marines and opportunities for work. But he chose not to reply. Years later, as he reflects on a long and simple life among the sheep in the Icelandic hillsides, he finally finds himself ready to explain why.

 

ABOUT
THE AUTHOR Bergsveinn
Birgisson

Bergsveinn Birgisson holds a doctorate in Norse philology and has an expansive background in folklore, oral histories, and lyrical poetry. A true academic at heart, Birgisson has spent his life studying language and how it represents the truth of the human condition. He currently resides in Bergen, Norway, where he continues to write classical tales of love and masters new languages. Reply to a Letter from Helga is Birgisson’s third novel, and his first to be translated into English.

Bergsveinn Birgisson holds a doctorate in Norse philology and has an expansive background in folklore, oral histories, and lyrical poetry. A true academic at heart, Birgisson has spent his life studying language and how it represents the truth of the human condition. He currently resides in Bergen, Norway, where he continues to write classical tales of love and masters new languages. Reply to a Letter from Helga is Birgisson’s third novel, and his first to be translated into English.

ABOUT
THE TRANSLATOR Philip
Roughton

Philip Roughton is an award-winning translator of Icelandic literature. He earned a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Colorado, Boulder, with specialties in medieval Icelandic, medieval Chinese, and Latin literature, and wrote his dissertation on medieval Icelandic translations of saints’ and apostles’ lives. He has taught modern and world literature at CU-Boulder, and medieval literature at the University of Iceland. His translations include works by many of Iceland’s best-known writers, including the Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness, Jón Kalman Stefánsson, Bergsveinn Birgisson, Steinunn Sigurðardóttir, and others. He was awarded the 2015 American-Scandinavian Foundation Translation Competition Prize, for his translation of Halldór Laxness’ novel Gerpla (Wayward Heroes), the Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize for 2016, for his translation of Jón Kalman Stefánsson’s The Heart of Man, and an NEA Literature Translation Fellowship for 2017.

Philip Roughton is an award-winning translator of Icelandic literature. He earned a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Colorado, Boulder, with specialties in medieval Icelandic, medieval Chinese, and Latin literature, and wrote his dissertation on medieval Icelandic translations of saints’ and apostles’ lives. He has taught modern and world literature at CU-Boulder, and medieval literature at the University of Iceland. His translations include works by many of Iceland’s best-known writers, including the Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness, Jón Kalman Stefánsson, Bergsveinn Birgisson, Steinunn Sigurðardóttir, and others. He was awarded the 2015 American-Scandinavian Foundation Translation Competition Prize, for his translation of Halldór Laxness’ novel Gerpla (Wayward Heroes), the Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize for 2016, for his translation of Jón Kalman Stefánsson’s The Heart of Man, and an NEA Literature Translation Fellowship for 2017.

NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS

An old farmer writes a letter to his former mistress, recounting their time together “in season”, before she moved to the city. Idyllic in almost every sense, corporeal, sincere and somewhat deluded; this novel has been very popular among readers of the library and was considered one of the most exciting books of 2010.

The best love story ever told in the epic language of a sheep farmer from Iceland. A book you will never forget!

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Date published
29/01/2013
Country
Iceland
Original Language
Icelandic
Publisher
AmazonCrossing
Translator
Philip Roughton
Translation
Translated from the Icelandic by Philip Roughton

RELATED FEATURES

Audio June 11 2024

All About Books: Katy Conneely, Dublin City FM on the 2024 Dublin Literary Award Ceremony

In her 'All About Books' podcast Katy Conneely attends the Winning Ceremony of the 2024 Dublin Literary Award on 23rd May 2024 and provides some highlights of the ceremony
Video June 5 2024

2024 Dublin Literary Award Winners Mircea Cărtărescu and Sean Cotter In Conversation

Mircea Cărtărescu and Sean Cotter, winners of the 2024 Dublin Literary Award take an in-depth look at the winning title, Solenoid with Alex Clarke as part of International Literature Festival Dublin.
Video May 31 2024

Dublin Literary Award 2024 Winner Announcements Highlights

Romanian author Mircea Cărtărescu and translator Sean Cotter have been announced as winners of the 2024 Dublin Literary Award on Thursday 23rd of May, for the novel Solenoid.
Video May 8 2024

Alexis Wright – Praiseworthy Q&A

Q&A with Alexis Wright, one of the six shortlisted authors for the 2024 Dublin Literary Award in which she discusses her passion for libraries and explores the influences behind her novel Praiseworthy

STAY CONNECTED

Stay in touch and sign up to our newsletter to receive all the latest news and updates on the Dublin Literary Award.