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.

 

Reeling from his mother’s sudden passing in a fatal car crash, Lobbi leaves Iceland behind, taking with him three offcuts of her rare, eight-petaled Rosa Candida. His destination is a monastery in...

This is the first book in Jón Kalman’s famed trilogy of novels about 19th century Iceland, and although he had previously published several novels and collections of poetry, this was the book that...

The winner of the 1995 Nordic Council Literature Prize, Angels of the Universe has since been adapted into an award-winning film by Icelandic director Friðrik Þór Friðriksson and...

A Fist or a Heart
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The perspective in this slim novel is split between two women who are in very different stages of life: Elín, a reclusive woman in her seventies, whittles away her remaining years designing props...

Stormwarning

Stormwarning offers a very different image of the Icelandic winter than the one presented in sweaters-and-cocoa touting adverts for the country’s winter tourism season. Here, seasonal affective...

Waitress in Fall

Kristín Ómarsdóttir’s prose might already be familiar to some readers through the publication of her eerie novel Children in Reindeer Woods by US publisher Open Letter Books some years...

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With its lyricism, detached narration and mystifying warzone setting, this slim novel, a fable about the absurdities of war, bears witness to Kristín Ómarsdóttir’s extensive career as a poet and a...

The Reckoning
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This is the second novel in Yrsa’s series about the Children’s House; a government agency that employs child psychologists who work with the police to safely interview children who have witnessed...

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Why Did You Lie? contains all the elements of a classic Yrsa thriller: an isolated and scenic location, buried secrets and traumas from the past, and several storylines that gradually...

The Legacy
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Here, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir kicks off a new series that focuses on the government agency known as the Children’s House; a special institution where child psychologists assist the police with...

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A stand-alone thriller that, much like Yrsa’s 2010 novel I Remember You, mixes the neo-gothic atmosphere of the modern ghost story with the tensions and the build of the psychological thriller. As...

I Rembember You
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Yrsa Sigurðardóttir shows her usual panache for layered thrillers but infuses the plot with elements of the modern ghost story. The book follows two, seemingly unrelated storylines that reflect on...

In 1973, the volcanic eruption of Eldfell threatened to permanently dispossess the people of Heimaey, the biggest of the Westman Islands off the south coast of Iceland and home to some 5000...

Heiða : a shepherd at the edge of the world
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In this slim and heavily illustrated book, novelist and poet Steinunn Sigurðardóttir reinvigorates the traditional Icelandic pastoral memoir by telling the true story of Heiða Guðný Ásgeirsdóttir...

The Good Lover
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Karl Ástuson has always gotten on well with women. Still, his love life, though active, cannot truly be called passionate. He is always on guard, unmarried and without girlfriends, not willing to...

Yo Yo
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Perhaps because Iceland often feels more like a small town than a country, Icelandic readers are quick to jump to conclusions when a local author puts out a new book, attributing characters to the...

Place of the Heart
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Hoping to save her from the clutches of the Reykjavík drug scene, single mother Harpa decides to relocate her daughter Edda Sólveig to the old family homestead on other side of the country. On...

Narrator: Sögumaður Braga Ólafssonar í enskri þýðingu Lytton Smith
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The universe of Bragi Ólafsson’s fiction is an unstable one, where character traipse from one book to another seemingly by their own, stubborn insistence. Due to their inaction and conflict-...

Being a writer in a country that prides itself on having an abnormally high percentage of writers can lead to a unique type of neurosis. This existential-imposter syndrome is the world of Sturla...

This black comedy of errors has its narrator, an unassuming young man named Emil, taking the drastic decision to hide himself in order to avoid Havard, a reckless friend from his past. This leads...

Published two years before the financial crash in 2008, Dreamland is something of an oracle document. It brings attention to the modern Icelander’s divided self; caught between the fast times of...

the casket of time

More fairy tale than fantasy, The Casket of Time presents us with a familiar world, where people harangue themselves with worry about “the situation” while doing naught to amend it. Meanwhile,...

the story of the blue planet

This deceptively simple book carries with it a profound message of environmentalism and global empathy. It should be a delight to read to children due to its straight-forward yet whimsical...

Betrayal
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In her first book after closing her Reykjavík Noir Trilogy, Lilja Sigurðardóttir tries her hand at a new form: The political thriller. In her signature multi-perspective prose, the book follows a...

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In the final instalment of her Reykjavík Noir Trilogy, we find former bankster Agla behind bars, serving a sentence for her part in the financial shenanigans that lead to the collapse of the...

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In Snare, readers first became acquainted with Sonja, a single mom who becomes a reluctant yet extremely capable drug mule in order to secure the funds to fight for custody of her son. In...

Snare
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Sonja’s life is in tatters. After the breakdown of her marriage – when her husband catches her in bed with another woman – she loses custody of her son and is placed in dire financial straits....

the outlaw
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In the final instalment in Jón Gnarr‘s auto-fictitious memoirs of his upbringing as an adolescent ne’er-do-well punk rocker, his parents have given up on setting him straight and sent him off to...

the pirate
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In The Pirate, Comedian and former mayor of Reykjavík Jón Gnarr continues his bleakly hysterical autobiographical writings about his early years as a redheaded enfant terrible cast adrift between...

the indian
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The Indian is the first book in Jón Gnarr’s trilogy of auto-fictions that span his childhood and formative years. The books are narrated by the young Jón and follow his development from a helter-...

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The Shadow Killer is firmly rooted in 1940s Reykjavík—a turbulent time when British occupational forces were being replaced by the Americans.

Reykjavík Nights eftir Arnald Indriðason
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Arnaldur successfully pulls off the stunt recently brought into vogue by authors such as Lynda La Plante and Colin Dexter; travelling back to his iconic detective’s early days on the job as a...

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Published in the year 2000, Jar City was an outrider for the explosion of Icelandic crime fiction which turned the previously fringe genre on the Icelandic publishing scene into a permanent...

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