Iceland

Jar City

“‘A powerful, psychologically acute procedural drama.’ - American Library Association

From Gold Dagger Award-winning author Arnaldur Indridason comes a Reykjavík thriller introducing Inspector Erlendur

When a lonely old man is found dead in his Reykjavík flat, the only clues are a cryptic note left by the killer and a photograph of a young girl's grave. Inspector Erlendur discovers that many years ago the victim was accused, but not convicted, of an unsolved crime, a rape. Did the old man's past come back to haunt him? As Erlendur reopens this very cold case, he follows a trail of unusual forensic evidence, uncovering secrets that are much larger than the murder of one old man.

An international sensation, the Inspector Erlendur series has sold more than two million copies worldwide.”

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

Butterflies in November

Long-listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2014

"In Butterflies in November, internationally best-selling author Auur Ava lafsdttir crafts a 'funny, moving, and occasionally bizarre exploration of life's upheavals and reversals' (Financial Times).

After a day of being dumped - twice - and accidentally killing a goose, a young woman yearns for a tropical vacation far away from the chaos of her life. Instead, her plans are thrown off course by her best friend's four-year-old deaf-mute son, thrust into her reluctant care. But when the boy chooses the winning numbers for a lottery ticket, the two of them set off on a road trip across Iceland with a glove compartment stuffed full of their jackpot earnings. Along the way, they encounter black sand beaches, cucumber farms, lava fields, flocks of sheep, an Estonian choir, a falconer, a hitchhiker, and both of her exes desperate for another chance. As she and the boy grow closer, what began as a spontaneous adventure unexpectedly and profoundly changes the way she views her past and charts her future.

Butterflies in November is a blackly comic, charming, and uplifting tale of friends and lovers, motherhood, and self-discovery."

(A special thank you to book club member, Karen Vingan for the suggestion.)

View on Amazon (US) | (UK) | (India)

The Blue Fox

Winner of the 2005 Nordic Council Literature Prize

"Set against the stark backdrop of the Icelandic winter, an elusive, enigmatic fox leads a hunter on a transformative quest. At the edge of the hunter's territory, a naturalist struggles to build a life for his charge, a young woman with Down Syndrome whom he had rescued from a shipwreck years before. By the end of Sjón's slender, spellbinding fable of a novel, none of their lives will be the same. The Blue Fox is part mystery, part fairy tale, and the perfect introduction to a mind-bending, world-class literary talent."

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

Gnarr

"In the epicenter of the world financial crisis, a comedian launched a joke campaign that didn’t seem so funny to the country’s leading politicians . . .

It all started when Jón Gnarr founded the Best Party in 2009 to satirize his country’s political system. The financial collapse in Iceland had, after all, precipitated the world-wide meltdown, and fomented widespread protest over the country’s leadership.

Entering the race for mayor of Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital, Gnarr promised to get the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park into downtown parks, free towels at public swimming pools, a 'drug-free Parliament by 2020' . . . and he swore he’d break all his campaign promises.

But then something strange started happening: his campaign began to succeed. And in the party’s electoral debut, the Best Party emerged as the biggest winner. Gnarr promptly proposed a coalition government, although he ruled out partners who had not seen all five seasons of The Wire.

And just like that, a man whose previous foreign-relations experience consisted of a radio show (in which he regularly crank-called the White House and police stations in the Bronx to see if they had found his lost wallet) was soon meeting international leaders and being taken seriously as the mayor of a European capital.

Here, Gnarr recounts how it all happened and, with admirable candor, describes his vision of a more enlightened politics for the future. The point, he writes, is not to be afraid to get involved—or to take on the system."

View on Amazon (US) | (UK) | (India)

I Remember You

Winner of the Icelandic Crime Fiction Award

"International superstar Yrsa Sigurdardottir has captivated the attention of readers around the world with her mystery series featuring attorney Thora Gudmundsdottir. Now, Yrsa will stun readers once again with this out-of-this-world ghost story that will leave you shivering. In an isolated village in the Icelandic Westfjords, three friends set to work renovating a rundown house. But soon, they realize they are not as alone as they thought. Something wants them to leave, and it's making its presence felt. Meanwhile, in a town across the fjord, a young doctor investigating the suicide of an elderly woman discovers that she was obsessed with his vanished son. When the two stories collide, the terrifying truth is uncovered. In the vein of John Ajvide Lindqvist, this horrifying thriller, partly based on a true story, is the scariest novel yet from Yrsa Sigurdardottir, who has taken the international crime fiction world by storm."

View on Amazon (US) | (UK) | (India)

Stone Tree

Winner of the 2011 Nordic Council Literature Prize

"Gyrðir Elíasson’s stories take us out of ourselves. Situated on the lonely western shores of Iceland, or out in the vast mountain ranges or barren lava fields, each is a study in self-exile. We follow a Boston ornithologist, speeding through the landscape chasing Arctic Terns; a boy relocating to the town of Siglufjördur to compete in a chess tournament; a husband packing his wife off to visit her aunt. In almost every story, we find people taking leave of their normal lives to take their dreams more seriously.

But even in the most desolate surroundings, Elíasson’s characters find strange company; ghostly presences in the early hours, enviable neighbours, fellow writers turning up at the same retreat, with the same ambitions. Like the wide canopy of stars under which they’re told, these stories plot a constellation of single, glittering images: a child defacing a new piano with a chisel in the middle of the night; a freezer packed with carefully wrapped dead birds, candles floating in a pond at night… Elíasson’s images are always unresolved, but are also somehow complete; like the dreams he shares with us, that lead us, through their own solitude, into other people’s. As Elíasson writes, ‘all dreams are joined at the edges, like the squares in a patchwork quilt.’"

View on Amazon (US) | (UK) | (India)