From Iceland — The Grapevine Bookclub: Sperm Banks And Erotic Sheep

The Grapevine Bookclub: Sperm Banks And Erotic Sheep

Published June 23, 2020

The Grapevine Bookclub: Sperm Banks And Erotic Sheep
Valur Grettisson
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Driving the Ring Road means a lot of downtime in the car. Pick up one of these books to enrich your mind while you get those kilometres in. 


By Andri Snær Magnason, 2013

Photo by Art Bicnick

If you are an Icelander and have already read ‘LoveStar’ by Andri Snær Magnason, read it again. The book not only predicted social media, but also how it would be utilised for marketing on a global level, and how it would eventually disconnect us from reality. When it was published in 2004, ‘LoveStar’ was supposed to be science fiction, but nowadays it’s more science than fiction. Set largely in the North of Iceland, Andri’s masterpiece critiques an Orwellian megacorporation—which is eerily similar to Facebook, to be honest. The summer is the perfect time to read it, we believe, because with the way 2020 is going, space burials are probably not too far off. VG

Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was

By Sjón, 2013

Photo by Art Bicnick

Sjón’s book ‘Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was’ is set in 1918 and explores the dramatic moment when Iceland declared independence from Denmark, which corresponded with the introduction of cinema to Reykjavík, the eruption of Katla and the deadly Spanish flu epidemic. What a time! The plot revolves around a young gay man who is obsessed with cinema during these catastrophic years. There’s forbidden love, imaginative escapism and the horrific reality of a viral pandemic taking over. Sjón possesses a magical realism that dabbles in steampunk, and the book is a short read so expect to throw the novel out the window of your car in anger after the last page before calling Sjón and demanding more information. But don’t despair—you can just pick up Sjón’s ‘Codex 1962’ next. VG   

Reply to a Letter From Helga 

Bergsveinn Birgisson, 2010

Photo by Hreinn Gudlaugsson/Wikimedia

Bergsveinn Birgisson’s novel is one of those rare ones that’ll make you love your partner a little bit more. It’s a well-written saga about an old sheep farmer’s regrets when it comes to love. The story is incredibly modern and honest when it comes to the human experience and the terrible regret about love lost. Plus, it also contains some of the best sex scenes ever written in Icelandic. It’s almost mandatory to read this book in the countryside, under the cacophony of a running stream, a golden plover, and a distant, perhaps after reading, weirdly erotic, bleat. VG

Someone To Watch Over Me

Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, 2009 

Photo by Art Bicnick

So, you want some mystery and thrill? We got you. The best way to enjoy the Icelandic psyche is to slip into the head of the country’s crime queen, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir. She is one of the most successful crime writers in Iceland and has sold millions of copies of her books around the world. But here is the Grapevine’s pro-tip when it comes to Yrsa: She’s most in her element when she combines ghost horror with crime, so if you need something to read in the dark, ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’ is both horrifying as well as a slick mystery. The first pages of the book will freak you out, but keep reading. You won’t regret it. VG   

The Blue Blood

Oddný Eir Ævarsdóttir, 2015


An autobiographical novella available on Kindle, ‘The Blue Blood’ charts the author’s journey as she attempts to become pregnant, via various means. Oddny’s search takes her from the corridors of a sperm bank, to a market in South America, to a cave under Eyjafjallajökull; along the way she muses on subjects like masculinity, Nazism, bohemianism, mythology and history. ‘The Blue Blood’ is full of vivid moments, and captures the turbulent joy, seriousness, sadness and absurdity of personhood. JR

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