Lectures & Literary past

Translation or Adaptation? Book Talk with Auður Jónsdóttir, Meg Matich, Tinna Hrafnsdóttir & Esther Allen

L-R —Book Jacket courtesy Dottir Press; Auður Jónsdóttir (photo by Saga Sigurðardóttir); Meg Matich (photo by Patrik Ontkovic); Tinna Hrafnsdóttir; Esther Allen

TUE—March 1—7:30 PM ET, free
*Registration required*

Join us for a book talk on March 1 with Icelandic author Auður Jónsdóttir, translator Meg Matich, director Tinna Hrafnsdóttir and moderator Esther Allen on the new novel Quake, out on February 8 from Dottir Press! This event will take place at Scandinavia House at 7:30 PM ET and will also be live-streamed to virtual audiences.

Nominated for the Icelandic Literary Prize, Quake: A Novel is a haunting novel-in-translation about Saga, a woman who comes to after an epileptic seizure on a sidewalk along busy Miklabraut Street. Her three-year-old son is gone. The last thing she remembers is a double-decker bus that no one else can confirm seeing. Over the following days, Saga’s mind is beset by memories and doubts. What happened before her seizure? Who can she trust? And how can she make any sense of her emotions when her memory is so fragmented?

The English-language debut of award-winning and prolific Icelandic author Auður Jónsdóttir, as translated by Meg Matich, Quake is a shocking and revelatory exploration of the blurred lines between fact and fiction, reality and imagination, and where mother ends and child begins. It has now been adapted into a 2021 film directed by Tinna Hrafnsdóttir, which premiered at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival.

With Allen, Jónsdóttir and Matich will discuss the writing and translation of the novel in Volvo Hall; following a short clip, Hrafnsdóttir will also discuss the making of the film adaptation. Registration is required for attendance at Scandinavia House; sign up at the link above. Details on watching the discussion virtually will be added here closer to the date.

“Part mystery, part family drama, part children-in-peril narrative, the novel offers a hectic, heart-thudding, sometimes claustrophobic portrait of panicked inner turmoil”—Kirkus Reviews

“Jónsdóttir’s powerful story of memory, identity, and the legacy of violence, her English-language debut, chronicles a woman’s recovery from an epileptic seizure… The limited perspective and acute sense of the narrator’s pain, both ingeniously rendered, make this unforgettable”—Publishers Weekly

About the Speakers

Auður Jónsdóttir is one of the most accomplished authors writing in Icelandic today. She won the Icelandic Literary Prize for The People in the Basement and the Icelandic Women’s Literature Prize for Secretaries to the Spirits. Both of these novels were nominated for the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize. Auður comes by her prolificity naturally, as she is the granddaughter of Halldór Laxness, winner of the 1955 Nobel Prize in Literature and a major figure in reviving the Icelandic literary tradition.

Tinna Hrafnsdóttir is an Icelandic director, actress, and writer who runs her own film production company, Freyja Filmwork. Tinna has written and directed two award-winning short films, Helga, 2016 and Munda, 2017, along with her first feature film Quake. Tinna is currently developing her first TV series Home is where the heart is.

Meg Matich is a poet and translator in Reykjavík. She earned her Master’s of Fine Arts from Columbia University and has received support for her work from the Banff Centre, PEN America, and the Fulbright Commission, and she is a frequent collaborator with Reykjavík UNESCO. Among other projects, Meg has collaborated with poet Magnús Sigurðsson on an anthology of Icelandic poetry, translated a book of essays in honor of former President Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, and translated the 2021 novel Magma. Her first poetry collection, Cold, was published earlier this year by Eulalia Books. Meg is one of a few immigrants in the Icelandic Writers’ Union and considers that membership quintessential to her life in Iceland.

About the Moderator

Esther Allen received the 2017 National Translation Award for her translation of Antonio Di Benedetto’s Zama. Her translation of The Silentiary, second volume in Di Benedetto’s Trilogy of Expectation, has just come out from NYRB. Co-founder of the PEN World Voices Festival in New York City, she teaches at City University of New York’s Graduate Center and Baruch College.

Her essays, reviews, and translations have appeared in the New York Review of Books, the Paris ReviewWords Without Borders, the Los Angeles Review of BooksGranta, and other publications.

About the Director