Dark Icelandic Literature

Dark Icelandic Literature

One of the ways for me to retain the feeling of Iceland is to read about it. However, of late, these have been dark books.
Arnaldur Indridason is the well-known writer of detective fiction. In “The Draining Lake” what is revealed when the water goes down is a complex back story of the Cold War and Icelanders abroad in East Germany. Protagonist Inspector Erlendur’s investigation reveals the truth–although his character is often revealed as a troubled one–repressed and depressed, and haunted by its own losses.
“Last Rituals” is essentially suspense lite. Author Yrsa Sigurdardottir brews up a stew of witchcraft and dysfunctional family, but not much about the book seems particularly Icelandic–except maybe the bad driving.
Olafur Gunnarsson’s “Troll’s Cathedral” is long and sprawling–and indeed very dark. It hinges on the rape of a child, but equally compelling is a plot that revolves around ambition, debt, betrayal, and in the fashion of the Scandinavian playwrights, architecture. At first I thought this was a masterpiece, then it seemed too slow and laborious, but after it was done I found myself haunted.
I really should just buckle down and get well into “Independent People” by Nobel prize winner Halldor Laxness. Yes, it is about sheep, but so is Iceland.

On a lighter note, some luminous work by artist Kristveig Halldórsdóttir of Gullkistan Residency.

4 thoughts on “Dark Icelandic Literature

  1. Miriam–I like Arnaldur but can only take so much of him—-reading about Iceland makes me too dark and chilly! But I think I’ll look for that book you mentioned: “Independent People.” Happy New Year!

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