2016 Featured Instructors

There will be ten Featured Authors at the 2016 Iceland Writers Retreat. Stay tuned for further announcements on the rest of our faculty. Please note that spaces in the workshops are limited and filling quickly. Please drop us a line if you would like to confirm the workshop availability for a specific author. 

STEVEN GALLOWAY, Chair of Creative Writing Program, University of British Columbia


Steven Galloway is the author of Finnie Walsh, AscensionThe Cellist of Sarajevo, and The Confabulist. He has won the Borders Original Voice Award, the OLA Evergreen Award, and the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature, and been nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Richard & Judy Book of the Year Award, the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, the Canadian Booksellers Association Fiction Award, and the Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award. His work has been published in over thirty countries and optioned for film.

He is chair of the creative writing program at the University of British Columbia, and lives in New Westminster. 

GERÐUR KRISTNÝ, Icelandic Literature Award winner

Gerður Kristný won the Icelandic Literature Award 2010 for her book of poetry Blóðhófnir. Gerður Kristný has published collections of poetry and short stories, novels, books for children and a biography, for which she received the Icelandic Journalism Award in 2005. Gerður’s play, The Dancing at Bessastadir, based on two of her children’s books, premiered in the Icelandic National Theater in Reykjavík in February 2011 and was acclaimed by the public and critics alike. Other awards for her work include The Icelandic Children's Choice Awards in 2003, The Halldór Laxness Literary Award in 2004 and The West-Nordic Children's Literature Award in 2010. She took part in the International Writers Program at The University of Iowa in 2014.

ELINA HIRVONEN, Author, journalist and documentary filmmaker

Elina Hirvonen (b. 1975) is a Helsinki-based author, journalist and documentary filmmaker. Her first novel, When I Forgot (2005) was a Finlandia Fiction Prize nominee and has been translated into seven languages. Farthest from Death (2010), her second novel, was born in Lusaka, Zambia, where Hirvonen and her husband spent two years. Hirvonen’s documentary film Paradise—Three Journals in this World (2007), which deals with African emigration to Europe, has been recognized with several awards.









VINCENT LAM, Giller Prize winner

Dr. Vincent Lam is from the expatriate Chinese community of Vietnam, and was born in Canada. Dr. Lam did his medical training in at the University of Toronto, and works as a physician in Toronto. 

Dr. Lam's first book, Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, won the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize, and was adapted for television and broadcast on HBO Canada. Dr. Lam co-authored The Flu Pandemic And You, a non-fiction guide to influenza pandemics, which was recognized in 2007 with a Special Recognition Award by the American Medical Writers' Association. Dr. Lam's biography of Tommy Douglas was published by Penguin Canada as part of Extraordinary Canadians series.

The Headmaster's Wager, Dr. Lam's first novel, about a Chinese compulsive gambler and headmaster of an English school in Saigon during the Vietnam War, was a finalist for the 2012 Governor General's Prize, and was shortlisted for the 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize.

CHERYL STRAYED, Author of Wild and other books

Cheryl Strayed is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir WILD, the bestselling advice essay collection TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS, the novel TORCH, and the forthcoming quotes collection, BRAVE ENOUGH. Her books have been translated into thirty-seven languages around the world. WILD was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as her first selection for Oprah's Book Club 2.0. The movie adaptation of WILD was directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, with a screenplay by Nick Hornby, and stars Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl and Laura Dern as Cheryl's mother, Bobbi. Both Dern and Witherspoon were nominated for Academy Awards for their performances in the film. Strayed's essays have been published in The Best American Essays, the New York Times, the Washington Post Magazine, Vogue, Salon, The Sun, Tin House, and elsewhere. Strayed is the co-host, along with Steve Almond, of the WBUR podcast Dear Sugar Radio, which originated with her popular Dear Sugar advice column on The Rumpus. Strayed holds an MFA in fiction writing from Syracuse University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband the filmmaker Brian Lindstrom and their two children.

MIRIAM TOEWS, Governor General's Award winner

Miriam Toews is an internationally acclaimed writer whose work has been translated into over twenty languages. She is the author of six bestselling novels and one work of non-fiction. She has won many literary prizes including the Governer General’s Award for Fiction, the Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Award for body of work, and the CBA Libris Award for Fiction Book of the Year. Her third novel, A Complicated Kindness, was the first book by a female writer to win CBC’s Canada Reads competition. All My Puny Sorrows, her most recent novel, spent over a year on the Canadian  bestseller lists and won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. It was also shortlisted for the Giller Prize, the Folio Prize for Literature, and the Wellcome Book Prize. Toews had a leading role in the 2007 feature film, Silent Light, written and directed by Carlos Reygadas, and winner of the Cannes Jury Prize. She holds three honorary degrees and, in 2013, she was inducted into the Order of Manitoba.

ADELLE WALDMAN, bestselling author

Adelle Waldman’s first novel, “The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.,” was named one of 2013’s best books by The New Yorker, The New Republic, Slate, The Economist, NPR, BookPage, The Guardian, and others. The novel is or will soon be translated into more than a dozen languages. Her writing has also appeared in The New York Times, Slate, The Wall Street Journal and many others publications.











The Iceland Writers Retreat will also feature talks and readings by several Icelandic authors. We will post their information here this autumn. 

Workshops will be allocated according to the order in which people registered for the Retreat and we will do our utmost to ensure you are placed in most or all of your top choices. Please note that we cannot be held responsible if a Featured Author is unable to attend due to circumstances beyond our control. If this were to happen, we would re-schedule those workshop participants in their next available workshop choice.