HPBA's press release about the guests of honour at the 29th Budapest International Book Festival

The Hungarian Publishers and Booksellers Association will organize the 29th Budapest International Book Festival between September 26 and 29, with Jón Kalman Stefánsson, who is also very popular in Hungary, as the guest of honour writer.


Every year at the Budapest International Bookfestival, the culture, literature, and book publishing of a guest of honour country or region is presented. This year France, and the contemporary French literature, will be in the focus, with the participation of the most important French writers.

Jón Kalman Stefánsson is a world-renowned writer, one of the most significant authors of contemporary Icelandic literature. He was born in 1963 in Reykjavík, worked as a bricklayer, butcher, fish processor, spent a summer as a policeman at Keflavík airport, later became a high school literature teacher and librarian. His writing career began with poems, his first volume was published in 1988. He began publishing novels in the nineties bringing him international success. In 2005 he won the Icelandic Literary Prize for his work Summer Light, and Then Comes the Night. In 2011 he was awarded the Per Olov Enquist Literary Prize. In 2017 his novel, titled Fish Have No Feet, was nominated for the Man Booker International Prize. He won the French Prix du livre étranger for the best foreign language book of the year in 2022.

In his richly woven tales connecting the everyday present and the often painful past with unparalleled psychological knowledge, he mixes poetry with an impeccable sense of style and


proportion, using a detailed description of the harsh and often cruel Icelandic landscape and nature. His novels are always about the most important things in life. The twisted, mosaic-like storyline makes it possible to elementally experience the feelings of love, pain and death.

It also fits his Ars poetica as he tells about his literary beginnings: "When I was eighteen, I dreamed of becoming an astronomer after seeing a TV program, in which Carl Sagan talked about the universe. I was completely mesmerized by the richness and mystery of the universe—later I realized that this richness and mystery is what fiction is all about.”

Jón Kalman Stefánsson's novels have been translated into many European languages. In 2018, his book titled Fish Have No Feet was published in Hungarian for the first time. One of his main works, the Heaven and Hell trilogy, also recognized with the Icelandic Literature Prize, was published in 2019 by Jelenkor Kiadó, translated by Veronika Egyed. The trilogy was chosen as the book of the year in 2019 by Könyves Magazin. His other works in Hungarian are About the Size of the Universe (Typotex Kiadó, 2020), Summer Light, and Then Comes the Night (Typotex, 2021), Ásta (Jelenkor, 2021), Sparkle in the Stars (Typotex, 2021), A Few Things about Giant Pines and Time (Typotex, 2023), Your Absence Is Darkness (Jelenkor, 2023).

His Hungarian readers were able to meet him several times; he visited Hungary for the first time in 2018 at the invitation of Typotex Kiadó for the presentation of his book Fish Have No Feet at the Budapest International Book Festival. Later, at the invitation of the Margó Literature Festival he presented the Heaven and Hell trilogy in 2019, and Ásta (Jelenkor) in 2021. In 2023 Stefánssonarrived to Budapest for the presentation of his freshly translated books: Your Absence Is Darkness (Jelenkor Kiadó) and A Few Things about Giant Pines and Time (Typotex).

In 2024, Typotex Kiadó will publish Poems translated by Veronika Egyed, which provides a cross-section of his lyrical oeuvre with the author's self-ironic suffix titled Why waste paper? The volumes titled Ditches in Rain (translated by Veronika Egyed) and The Yellow Submarine (translated by Bence Patat) are expected to be released by Jelenkor Kiadó this year.

Photo: Dániel Németh/Jelenkor Kiadó