Get Your Read On: Out Of The Blue & The Flatey Enigma - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Get Your Read On: Out Of The Blue & The Flatey Enigma

Get Your Read On: Out Of The Blue & The Flatey Enigma

Björn Halldórsson
Photos by
Alisa Kalyanova
University of Minnesota Press

There’s probably at least one sunny day left in this grey Icelandic summer. Here are a few ideas for things you could read while lolling around in the park.

Helen Mitsios ed. – Out of the Blue: New Short Fiction from Iceland
This ambitious collection put out by the University of Minnesota Press is one of a kind. It gathers twenty short stories by some of Iceland’s most prominent contemporary writers, many of whom have not found their way into English translation before. The stories tackle a variety of subjects and are not bound by the coastline of Iceland. Some are faithful to a traditional narrative form, some make use of folklore and myth, while others defy the standard bingo card of Icelandic fiction entirely. The authors of the stories vary greatly and yet they all share what local author Sjón, in his foreword to the collection, refers to as a unique tendency among Icelandic writers, who “while recognizing no literature except that which springs from reality […] reserve the right to distort the truth according to the demands of their tales.”

Viktor Arnar Ingólfsson – The Flatey Enigma
‘The Flatey Enigma’ is quite different from most of the other Scandi-Noirs out there, which is perhaps no wonder as it was published in 2002, before the genre had risen to its current, internationally renowned stature. The novel is set in the 1960s in Flatey, an inhabited island with a rich history situated in the middle of Breiðafjörður. A horribly disfigured body is found by seal hunters on a nearby island. Soon, more deaths follow and it becomes apparent that the murders have some relation to the 14th century manuscript known as The Flatey Book. The historical murder mystery that follows may at times feel a bit stretched but I would recommend giving this book a chance. Its depiction of an isolated Icelandic locality in the 1960s has a true sense of otherness to it: a world just beyond the modern, filled with lore and folk wisdom and memorable characters with a distinct worldview very different from that of today’s Icelander.

Read more about Icelandic literature here.


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