Here are two more English-translated Icelandic books that you can pick up while you’re in Reykjavík. Or buy on Amazon when you get home. If Amazon has them. Which they might not. Maybe best to buy them in Iceland after all, eh?
Bragi Ólafsson – The Pets
This black comedy of errors has its narrator, an unassuming young man named Emil, making the drastic decision to hide under his own bed to avoid Havard, a reckless friend from his past, leading to him being trapped there for the rest the novel, while the interloper gallivants around his apartment and makes himself comfortable in his life—even hosting a party for Emil’s friends and family. From his vantage point under the bed, Emil has the chance to voyeuristically observe and obsess over the social customs and behaviors of the guests, and guess at the thoughts hidden behind their idle conversations. In opposition to the frustrations of this absurd setting, the writing is effortless and clear, engaging the reader with humor as well as the endearing ordinariness of the characters, especially when placed in opposition to the amoral and puckish Havard.
Hallgrímur Helgason – The Hitman’s Guide to Housecleaning
The author of ‘101 Reykjavík’ here uses the tropes of hardboiled crime fiction for his own nefarious purposes. The result is a Tarantino-esque romp like no other. Tomislav ‘Toxic’ Bokšic is a cocksure hitman for the Croatian mafia in New York who needs to go into hiding after a botched hit. Through a series of accidents, he ends up in Iceland, a country where murder is a rarity and gunmen are nowhere to be found, and is forced to contain his violent tendencies and take on a new identity. Soon he is making strides towards bettering himself and integrating into this unfamiliar and peaceful society. His unconventional worldview provides a unique outsider’s perspective through which to gaze in wonderment upon the absurdities of modern Icelandic culture and society.
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