About Thorarinn

A punk, street painter, car decorator, illustrator, web designer, author of books, lecturer and finally a tour guide in Iceland …

Thorarinn Leifsson is a restless soul. Born in 1966 he was raised by nomadic academics in Reykjavik and Copenhagen and later left to roam in the Icelandic countryside where he worked as a shepherd and cowboy from the age of nine.

In his early teens, Thorarinn was a punk and then a street painter, sleeping on the sidewalks of western Europe, a lifestyle that later inspired his biographical novel; The Street Painter. After that he studied fine art in Reykjavik, graduating in 1989 and working exclusively as an illustrator for a few years. Then employed as a web interface designer for a decade – more or less until the first tech bubble burst in the early years of this century.

Disillusioned by a manuscript he was hired to illustrate, Thorarinn decided to write Fathers Big Secret in 2007, a  richly decorated story for children about a cannibal patriarch. The book was an instant success with critics and subsequently published in Germany and Denmark, followed soon after by Norway, Finland and The Faroe Islands. Last but not least; Salani in Italy will publish it in the spring of 2022.

Since his debut as an author in 2007, Thorarinn has published new works every two or three years. His stories have harvested literary prizes and The Man Who Hated Children was nominated for The Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize in 2015. Grandmothers Library can be found in book stores in Estonia, Norway and Italy).

In recent years Thorarins books evolved towards fewer illustrations and more text, gradually becoming more experimental. One of his more recent books is Killing Tourists, a sharp and witty crime novel set in the madness of Icelandic mass tourism just before the Coronavirus forced the world into lockdown. A second novel in the series will come out in 2025 and both books will be available in English that same year. Great-Grandad and the Vanishing Glacier, published in 2023, marks the author’s return to his roots in illustrated books for younger audiences.

A full overview of Thorarins most important published work can be found on the Books page.

Leifsson restlessness in life and creation has made him live a good part of his life abroad, in Copenhagen, Barcelona, and Berlin. This again has led to his current occupation as a tour guide in Iceland.

Thorarinn Leifsson now lives in Reykjavík, Iceland. He has two children from relationships with Icelandic women: Salka (1992) and Leifur Otto (2011). Leifssons’s granddaughter Kolka was born in mars 2020.