Published in 2016, ‘Hotel Silence’ (Icelandic: Ör) is a novel by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir that was awarded the ‘Nordic Council Literature Prize‘ in 2018. Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir is an Icelandic professor of art history, a novelist, playwright and poet. Born in 1958, in Reykjavík she studied history of art at Sorbonne (Paris, France) and currently works as an assistant professor of art history at the University of Iceland. For a time, she was the director of the university’s Art Museum. In the novel ‘Ör’, we encounter a man in his late 40s, poor, abandoned by his wife and suffering his midlife crisis, who takes his literal and metaphorical toolbox with him to a war-torn European country, intent upon putting an end to his life. In the course of his travels, he realises that we all have our own toolbox: what matters is how we choose to use it. This is a small book with a big heart, which asks the big questions about the individual versus the collective, about our privileges, rights and duties. Ultimately, it is duty that provides humanity with the tools to challenge the darkness. According to the Adjudicating Committee, Ólafsdóttir has been awarded the prize for a work full of subtle humour and sparkling, vital language, which asks the big questions about life and death.
Books, Culture, Iceland, Literature, Reykjavík, University