Prize Winner: Andri Snær Magnason 

The Icelandic author Andri Snær Magnason was born in Reykjavik in 1973. His novel Dreamland reached record sales in his home country and brought Magnason to international prominence. Dreamland is a polemic about the self-delusions of a nation: long before the financial crisis brought Iceland to the brink of ruin, Andri Snær Magnason warned of rampant turbo-capitalism and spoke against the sell-off of Iceland’s countryside to internationally active aluminium corporations. Dreamland made Magnason into ‘Iceland’s Al Gore’ and became the spearhead of a powerful yet non-ideological environmental movement.

The KAIROS selection committee explained their reasons for their choice as follows: ‘Andri Magnason has inverted the contemplative stance with which the writer has encountered nature for centuries, and has derived an active, fierce attitude from the praise and internalisation of nature. Poetry and environmental agency, aesthetic sensitivity and civil disobedience are not mutually exclusive in his work but complement each other.’

The prize-giving ceremony took place in the Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg on 28 February 2010. The Icelandic singer Emiliana Torrini and other musicians from the laureate’s country participated in the event.