Michael Lewis Draws Ire for Vanity Fair Article - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Michael Lewis Draws Ire for Vanity Fair Article

Published April 7, 2009

The article “Wall Street on the Tundra” – a Vanity Fair piece about Iceland – has provoked a significant reaction from the native population; not all of it positive.
The New York Times reports that an American journalist living in Iceland, Jonas Moody, wrote on New York magazine’s website that journalist Michael Lewis’ assertion that Icelanders were “inbred” was not only insulting but also inaccurate, saying, “DNA shows their roots to be a healthy mix between Nordic Y chromosomes and X chromosomes from the British Isles.” We at the Grapevine would add that Icelandic records show extended visits from numerous foreign peoples, among them the French and the Turkish.
Furthermore, Lewis’ joke that there are only about nine surnames in Iceland was also countered with the fact that there are close to 1,700 surnames in the National Registry.
Vanity Fair contends that Lewis’ article was thoroughly fact-checked by three researchers – none of whom, apparently, checked to see if Icelanders are indeed inbred, “mousy-haired” or “lumpy” – and Lewis himself told the New York Times that the article was meant to depict “that Iceland is a delightful, interesting society that unfortunately took a real wrong turn for a few years.”
And just to show that Lewis is no stereotype-slinging jingoist, he added, “I guess there’s some gentle mocking going on, but it wasn’t completely undeserved, I think, and it wasn’t
hostile.”
And who could possibly interpret being called inbred and overweight as anything but gentle mocking, right? 


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