The Bridge – Reviews of Icelandic Literature in Translation

The Bridge strives to present original reviews for Icelandic literature available in the English language.

The Bridge is an independent platform hosted by the Literature Web in cooperation with the Reykjavík City Library and Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature. All content is created and owned by Björn Halldórsson, Senior Editor.

 

The Last Days of My Mother

“I had decided to take Mother to die in Amsterdam.” So begins Sölvi Björn’s rambunctious tale about a mother and son’s boozy journey to seek a mysterious (and quite possible dubious) miracle cure...

Set in Reykjavík of the 1960s, The Lodger is steeped in the politics of its time, namely the opposition to Iceland’s inclusion in NATO and the presence of armed forces at the U.S. Navy...

The Island, Ragnar Jónasson
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Readers who fell in love with tenebrous detective Hulda Hermannsdóttir in The Darkness were somewhat perturbed by Ragnar Jónasson’s decision to portray her on the brink of retirement in...

The darkness, Ragnar Jónasson
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In The Darkness, Ragnar Jónasson lays to rest stalwart Siglufjörður policeman Ari Þór (for now at least) and introduces us to a new and very different protagonist: Detective Hulda...

Blackout, Ragnar Jónasson
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This third book in the Dark Iceland series takes a gruesome turn, with policeman Ari Þór of the (supposedly) quiet northern fishing village of Siglufjörður investigating a brutal murder...

Whiteout, Ragnar Jónasson
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In Ragnar Jónasson’s fifth book about Siglufjörður policeman Ari Þór, a young woman returns to her childhood home: the remote settlement of Kálfhamarsvík, known for its scenic lighthouse and the...

CoDex 1962
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Translated by award winning translator Victoria Cribb and brought out together in a single volume for its first publication in English, CoDex 1962 contains Icelandic writer and poet Sjón’...

History. A Mess
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In the archives of an elite European university, a young PhD candidate stumbles upon a 365-year-old diary entry that offers proof of the world’s first documented professional female artist. For...

Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was
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The winner of the 2013 Icelandic Literature Prize, Moonstone is set in Reykjavík in 1918; an extremely calamitous year for Iceland and also the year that the country was granted...

In this selection Sigurður Pálsson’s poetry, translator Martin S. Regal has gathered a cross section of the work of one of Iceland’s foremost modern poets.

The perfect landscape, Ragna Sigurðardóttir
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Hanna, a young art historian who has recently concluded her studies in Amsterdam, returns to Iceland to take up a position at a small gallery in Reykjavík. After all this time away, the city feels...

In this slim and delightful novel, Valdimar Haraldsson, a peevish elderly academic obsessed with the connection between the superiority of the Nordic race and their pescatarian diet, is invited to...

Kin

Kin is the first book in Snorri Kristjánsson’s Helga Finnsdóttir Mysteries, which takes Nordic Noir to some unexpected places – namely Viking Age Scandinavia.

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In a rented garage apartment in a suburban hamlet in Reykjavík, an octogenarian woman prepares her cancer-ridden body for a final cremation at 1000 degrees Celcius.

The Ice Lands
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In The Ice Lands Steinar Bragi is on familiar grounds, using tropes more commonly found in the genres of horror and fantasy to address deep-seated psychological complexities within today’...

In The Haunting of Reykjavík, novelist and poet Steinar Bragi, known for pitting genres together and taking the psychological thriller to unexplored places, tries his hand at something...

Swords of Good Men

In his debut novel Swords of Good Men, the first book in the Valhalla Saga trilogy, Snorri Kristjánsson applies dashes of fantasy to the historical novel form to reflect the way that his...

The Hitman's Guide to Housecleaning

It is said that every writer has at least one crime novel in them, though many choose never to let their beasts run free. Here, Hallgrímur Helgason takes on the hardboiled pulp genre and uses...

101 Reykjavík
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101 Reykjavík is narrated by Hlynur, a twenty-something amoral flunky who spends every weekend night prowling for pointless sexual trysts. He has no ambition, no job, no prospects and is...

And the Wind Sees Us All

In the style of Life: A User’s Manual and Mrs. Dalloway, the timespan of this slim novel is a mere two minutes, yet the prose captures the inner lives of the residents of an...

The Good Shepherd
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Out of Gunnar Gunnarsson’s vast catalogue of writings only this short novella is currently available in English; a fable about a shepherd who puts himself at great risk while searching for lost...

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Sometimes referred to as “the Icelandic Ulysses”, Tómas Jónsson: Bestseller caused quite a stir when it was first published in 1966 and is heralded as having ushered in a new era of...

Wayward Heroes
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When Wayward Heroes was first published in 1952, three years before Halldór Laxness received the Nobel Prize in Literature, some Icelandic readers were outraged – or at least...

The Atom Station
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The Atom Station is sometimes referred to as the first Reykjavík novel, as upon its initial publication in 1948 Icelandic fiction mostly took place in the ideal surroundings of the...

In his 1991 classic The Swan, Guðbergur Bergsson immerses himself in the consciousness of a child; an anonymous nine-year-old girl who is sent to work on a farm in the Icelandic...

The Creak on the Stairs
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After suffering a devastating emotional blow, Chief Investigating Officer Elma has returned to her hometown of Akranes to make a fresh start. Due to her experience on the Reykjavík Police Force,...

Drápa: A Reykjavík Murder Mystery
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Poet and author Gerður Kristný has called Drápa her contribution to Nordic Noir, this despite the book being a novel-in-verse written written in a lyrical style that doffs its ...

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Divorced and alone, Jónas Ebeneser is pretty much done with life. No one seems to have much use for a middle-aged loner who has little to offer but his abilities as a handyman; versed in all...

Although About the Size of the Universe is labelled as a stand-alone sequel to Fish Have No Feet, the book follows close on the heels of the previous novel, continuing its...

Fish Have No Feet
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In 2017, Fish Have No Feet earned Jón Kalman Stefánsson and his translator Philip Roughton a joint longlist nomination for The International Man Booker.

Sun on Fire

Set in Berlin, Sun on Fire starts off as a traditional whodunit in the Agatha Christy murder-at-the-dinner-party tradition, providing a locked room and a cast suspicious characters that...

Daybreak

This is the first book in Viktor Arnar’s series of novels about odd couple detectives Birkir Li Hinriksson and Gunnar Maríuson. Both are to some extent outsiders in Icelandic society – Birkir...

Reply to a Letter from Helga
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Bjarni Gíslason – the narrator of this slim, epistolary novel – is a man out of time. History, folklore and nature are all weaved together in his visions of the beloved countryside where he has...

Árni Þórarinsson’s books about seasoned crime correspondent Einar, a newshound fossil with a nose for trouble, are a part of the new wave of post-millennium Icelandic crime fiction. As such, Árni’...

At a time when other Icelandic crime writers were still adapting the urban crime novel to Reykjavík streets, Viktor Arnar chose to take on the form of the historical thriller, setting his story in...

The Creator is filled with damaged people. Sveinn is an isolated and lonely master craftsman who makes high-quality silicone sex dolls that he sells to other lonely men for companionship...

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