The weird food and the sea – Deichman literature blog

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“Hello dear writers! Have any of you read Icelandic literature? “

This question broke in early on a Friday morning. The response was not overwhelming to say it carefully.

What can we do because we in Norway are so bad at reading authors from Iceland?

What can we do because we in Norway are so bad at reading authors from Iceland? A little translated? Well, most major names are in Norwegian, so it seems like a little probable explanation. Does Iceland distant? Exotic? Linked to old sagas and something else? No matter where the explanation is, there is a golden opportunity to look at the literature from the saga island in the west.

Even I have read something, I found out when I thought about it and the question was asked. But, what have I really read? Yes, of course, literary literature.

Icelandic alibians

Arnaldur Indriðason and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir are my alibies for reading something from Iceland, along with the novel Salka Valka of Nobel Prize winner Halldór Kiljan Laxness ; the latter as part of the curriculum at the Library College in a distant past.

Both Arnaldur and Yrsa write well and have exciting chic stories to offer. The fact that the action is added to Iceland adds extra color to the narratives, and the term exotic is really quite adequate, although it is often associated with even distant countries and places.

When I think of Iceland, I often think of sea.


When I think of Iceland, I often think of sea, and imagine that it was central to the ocean in these stories, but when I start again with some of the books, I notice that this is only partly true. In the book Løgnen by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir , the sea is hardly present at times. The story starts out on a guy where more people are brought together and slowly but surely we realize that there is a connection between them. In other books, the ocean can be almost absent. The grip of pulling threads back to the past, on the other hand, is well-known and widely used in criminal literature and the author uses it with great success in the story Løgnen .

When I talk to others who have also read Icelandic literature, things like “the weird food” and “the American navy base” are things that are drawn and unfolding in these stories. Even I have had a naive (assuming) idea that in Iceland everyone knows. This I intend to convey the narratives from there, making crimes and secrets almost impossible to keep hidden. It’s probably not the reality, either in Iceland or elsewhere.

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There is something about both the atmosphere and the Icelandic landscape.

Sympathetic anti-heroes

The books of Arnaldur Indriðason are the ones I have had the most knowledge of. They enter into the tradition of more or less sympathetic anti-heroes, with dysfunctional families and cohabitation. Nevertheless, there is something about both the atmosphere and the Icelandic landscape that creates a different framework around the stories and makes them different. The first book for the author I read was the Ant ; which was the first published in Norwegian (2004). Police investigator Erlendur Sveinsson is of the kind who does not care and continues where colleagues leave the case. Here he has a good spirit in Danish Carl Adler-Olsen’s “Carl Mørk” and the results do not obviously fail. The ant was a book that caught me in quickly and efficiently. In retrospect, I thought that it was both exotic to read something from Iceland, but also the ability to use themes such as genealogy and hereditary diseases as ingredients in a crime mystery, among other things.

Future Library

Unfortunately, by Halldór Kiljan Laxness , I do not remember much. From Salka Valka I am left with a picture of infinity with meals with cod, sea and hard work and a tough life. By the way, there are plenty of good Icelandic contemporary authors, such as the author Sjón ; which has been selected for this year’s author in the Future Library / Future Library project. It’s just a good reading position.

Interested in Icelandic literature? Take part in Nordmark on June 2 to attend the transfer of Sjón’s secret manuscript to the future library and then experience the Icelandic writer at Deichmanske main library in conversation with Rob Young. Also read our interview with Sjón .