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Out of the Blue: New Short Fiction from Iceland

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This extraordinary collection, the first anthology of Icelandic short fiction published in English translation, features work by twenty of Iceland’s most popular and celebrated living authors—including Andri Snær Magnason, Jón Kalman Stefánsson, Kristín Ómarsdóttir, and Auður Jónsdóttir—granddaughter of Halldór Laxness, who won the 1955 Nobel Prize in Literature.  Celebrate This extraordinary collection, the first anthology of Icelandic short fiction published in English translation, features work by twenty of Iceland’s most popular and celebrated living authors—including Andri Snær Magnason, Jón Kalman Stefánsson, Kristín Ómarsdóttir, and Auður Jónsdóttir—granddaughter of Halldór Laxness, who won the 1955 Nobel Prize in Literature.  Celebrated in Europe and Scandinavia but less known in the English-speaking world, these writers traverse realms of darkness and light that will be familiar to readers who have fallen under the spell of Scandinavian fiction. While uniquely Icelandic in topography and tenor, with a touch of the island’s supernatural charm, the stories traffic in the enduring and universal complexities of human nature. Here is a fictional universe where the ghosts of Vikings and spirits tread, volcanoes grumble underfoot, and writers trip the Northern Lights fantastic across the landscape of the Icelandic imagination.  At long last, readers can enjoy award-winning stories now expertly rendered into English by the country’s most renowned translators. In “Killer Whale” a father contemplates euthanasia for a terminally ill child, in “Self Portrait” a vacationing family in Spain crosses paths with migrants, in “Escape for Men” a woman searches for an ex-lover in the South of France, and in “The Most Precious Secret” the nature of artists and the art world is mercilessly revealed. Both the Viking myths of Iceland’s forefathers and the cutting-edge modern world of the country today are brilliantly alive in these remarkable and original stories. This collection is an excursion to an island where almost two million travelers descend yearly on a population of 345 thousand natives. Iceland is the place Björk calls home, the location where Game of Thrones was filmed—a place with open lava fields, glaciers, and iceberg lagoons among other natural wonders that is becoming one of the “hottest” tourist destinations on earth. Out of the Blue transports readers to Iceland’s timeless and magical island of Vikings and geographical wonders, and it promises to be a seminal collection that will define Icelandic literature in translation for decades to come.  Contributors: Auður Ava Olafsdóttir, Kristín Eiríksdóttir, Þórarinn Eldjárn, Gyrðir Elíasson, Einar Örn Gunnarsson, Ólafur Gunnarsson, Einar Már Guðmundsson, Auður Jónsdóttir, Gerður Kristný, Andri Snær Magnason, Óskar Magnússon, Bragi Ólafsson, Kristín Ómarsdóttir, Óskar Árni Óskarsson, Magnús Sigurðsson, Jón Kalman Stefánsson, Ágúst Borgþór Sverrisson, Guðmundur Andri Thorsson, Þórunn Erlu-Valdimarsdóttir, Rúnar Helgi Vignisson.


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This extraordinary collection, the first anthology of Icelandic short fiction published in English translation, features work by twenty of Iceland’s most popular and celebrated living authors—including Andri Snær Magnason, Jón Kalman Stefánsson, Kristín Ómarsdóttir, and Auður Jónsdóttir—granddaughter of Halldór Laxness, who won the 1955 Nobel Prize in Literature.  Celebrate This extraordinary collection, the first anthology of Icelandic short fiction published in English translation, features work by twenty of Iceland’s most popular and celebrated living authors—including Andri Snær Magnason, Jón Kalman Stefánsson, Kristín Ómarsdóttir, and Auður Jónsdóttir—granddaughter of Halldór Laxness, who won the 1955 Nobel Prize in Literature.  Celebrated in Europe and Scandinavia but less known in the English-speaking world, these writers traverse realms of darkness and light that will be familiar to readers who have fallen under the spell of Scandinavian fiction. While uniquely Icelandic in topography and tenor, with a touch of the island’s supernatural charm, the stories traffic in the enduring and universal complexities of human nature. Here is a fictional universe where the ghosts of Vikings and spirits tread, volcanoes grumble underfoot, and writers trip the Northern Lights fantastic across the landscape of the Icelandic imagination.  At long last, readers can enjoy award-winning stories now expertly rendered into English by the country’s most renowned translators. In “Killer Whale” a father contemplates euthanasia for a terminally ill child, in “Self Portrait” a vacationing family in Spain crosses paths with migrants, in “Escape for Men” a woman searches for an ex-lover in the South of France, and in “The Most Precious Secret” the nature of artists and the art world is mercilessly revealed. Both the Viking myths of Iceland’s forefathers and the cutting-edge modern world of the country today are brilliantly alive in these remarkable and original stories. This collection is an excursion to an island where almost two million travelers descend yearly on a population of 345 thousand natives. Iceland is the place Björk calls home, the location where Game of Thrones was filmed—a place with open lava fields, glaciers, and iceberg lagoons among other natural wonders that is becoming one of the “hottest” tourist destinations on earth. Out of the Blue transports readers to Iceland’s timeless and magical island of Vikings and geographical wonders, and it promises to be a seminal collection that will define Icelandic literature in translation for decades to come.  Contributors: Auður Ava Olafsdóttir, Kristín Eiríksdóttir, Þórarinn Eldjárn, Gyrðir Elíasson, Einar Örn Gunnarsson, Ólafur Gunnarsson, Einar Már Guðmundsson, Auður Jónsdóttir, Gerður Kristný, Andri Snær Magnason, Óskar Magnússon, Bragi Ólafsson, Kristín Ómarsdóttir, Óskar Árni Óskarsson, Magnús Sigurðsson, Jón Kalman Stefánsson, Ágúst Borgþór Sverrisson, Guðmundur Andri Thorsson, Þórunn Erlu-Valdimarsdóttir, Rúnar Helgi Vignisson.

30 review for Out of the Blue: New Short Fiction from Iceland

  1. 5 out of 5

    Fran

    Frigid and dark Arctic winters in Iceland, a perfect time for twenty gifted story weavers to create the tales that populate "Out of the Blue: New Short Fiction from Iceland". Editor Helen Mitsios has compiled an assortment of stories, varying in length, recently translated into English. Some stories originate in Iceland, some do not. For me, this was of no consequence. My favorite stories include "Afternoon by the Pacific Ocean" where two movie stars share bread rolls and literature. "The Most Pr Frigid and dark Arctic winters in Iceland, a perfect time for twenty gifted story weavers to create the tales that populate "Out of the Blue: New Short Fiction from Iceland". Editor Helen Mitsios has compiled an assortment of stories, varying in length, recently translated into English. Some stories originate in Iceland, some do not. For me, this was of no consequence. My favorite stories include "Afternoon by the Pacific Ocean" where two movie stars share bread rolls and literature. "The Most Precious Secret" centers around ungratefulness when a friend no longer provides useful services. In "Killer Whale", a disturbing gut-wrenching decision is made. A delightful Nordic tale called "A Pen Changes Hands" is pure magic. "Out of the Blue" editor Helen Mitsios has chosen well. This Icelandic sampler delivers a flavor of Icelandic life. It is no wonder that 2,000,000 tourists visit Iceland yearly for an enchanting experience. Thank you University of Minnesota Press and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review "Out of the Blue".

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    I enjoy reading short stories and short fiction and jumped at the opportunity to read this collection, the first of its kind to be published in English translation. Twenty Icelandic authors are represented here with stories set in Iceland and elsewhere, but usually featuring Icelandic citizens trying to deal with personal problems that border on the universal. Even foreign settings contain a touch of the frozen north. Some excellent stories, many very good ones, and only a few that left me unmov I enjoy reading short stories and short fiction and jumped at the opportunity to read this collection, the first of its kind to be published in English translation. Twenty Icelandic authors are represented here with stories set in Iceland and elsewhere, but usually featuring Icelandic citizens trying to deal with personal problems that border on the universal. Even foreign settings contain a touch of the frozen north. Some excellent stories, many very good ones, and only a few that left me unmoved. Most use Iceland as a powerful setting or a character in itself. These are not action tales but more atmospheric stories; some delve deep into relationships while others consider life and death. In one of my favorites, "Late Afternoon in Four Parts," I'm not really sure what happened--atmosphere seems to rule. In another favorite, "Killer Whale," I realized in the end exactly what happened. (I strongly suggest NOT reading the full description provided at Goodreads before reading the stories if you wish to read the stories without spoilers and get the full impact as I did!) As I write this review, I feel I will read these stories again at some point. I want to meet these people again and see what they say to me on a second visit. 3.5* rounded to 4 A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Gill

    'Out of the Blue' edited by Helen Mitsios 3.5 stars/ 7 out of 10 I have visited Iceland, and have read both fiction and nonfiction relating to the country; so was very interested in reading this anthology of short stories written by Icelandic writers. This volume consists of 20 short stories, each by a different Icelandic author, with a variety of translators. There was an interesting foreword by Sjón, and short biographies of all the authors at the end. I had expected all of the stories to be set i 'Out of the Blue' edited by Helen Mitsios 3.5 stars/ 7 out of 10 I have visited Iceland, and have read both fiction and nonfiction relating to the country; so was very interested in reading this anthology of short stories written by Icelandic writers. This volume consists of 20 short stories, each by a different Icelandic author, with a variety of translators. There was an interesting foreword by Sjón, and short biographies of all the authors at the end. I had expected all of the stories to be set in Iceland, but many were not. I was disappointed by this. My favourite story was 'Scorn Pole', which was arranged around the theme of building a turf house. Other stories that I enjoyed included 'Afternoon by the Pacific' (which I found funny) and 'Killer Whale' (which I found very moving). Thank you to University of Minnesota Press and to NetGalley for an ARC.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bonnye Reed

    GNA I received a free electronic copy of this collection of short stories from Netgalley, Helen Mitsios, and University of Minnesota Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. This is a collection of very exceptional stories written by twenty of Iceland's living artists. Iceland, you know, that really bleak, cold spot up north that is a sky hop from Europe to Canada or the upper US. After reading this collection of short stories, poems and tidbits of GNA I received a free electronic copy of this collection of short stories from Netgalley, Helen Mitsios, and University of Minnesota Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. This is a collection of very exceptional stories written by twenty of Iceland's living artists. Iceland, you know, that really bleak, cold spot up north that is a sky hop from Europe to Canada or the upper US. After reading this collection of short stories, poems and tidbits of prose Iceland has a much richer place in my thoughts of that Island so conveniently placed just a hop from Scotland and Nova Scotia. I love that Helen Mitsios described Iceland on her initial visit in the 1980's as 'a kind of Waiting for Godot stage set'. I love that she is still enthralled with the people, the country, and was willing to introduce them to those of us in the English speaking world. Iceland is home to 331,000 people, but will be visited this year by 2,000,000 tourists. after reading Out of the Blue, I hope to be one of them.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Guess I was expecting these stories to take place in Iceland, but I was very wrong. These rather boring and pointless stories take place all over the world. Not what I was hoping for. Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 4.0 of 5 Out of the Blue is an outstanding collection of short and short-short works of literature from Icelandic authors. In the foreword, Sjón writes "Icelanders read and write more books per person than to inhabitants of any other country." That's pretty impressive, and more than a little surprising given that I've only just started to encounter Icelandic authors in my reading journeys. But it is because I have started to encoun This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 4.0 of 5 Out of the Blue is an outstanding collection of short and short-short works of literature from Icelandic authors. In the foreword, Sjón writes "Icelanders read and write more books per person than to inhabitants of any other country." That's pretty impressive, and more than a little surprising given that I've only just started to encounter Icelandic authors in my reading journeys. But it is because I have started to encounter more and more Icelandic authors that I was drawn to this book. This collection of twenty short stories is s nice introduction to the tenor of the Icelandic literary voice. But let's be clear about something ... these are Icelandic authors. That doesn't mean all the stories are set in Iceland or tell about the serene beauty of this Scandinavian country. This isn't the case. But the stories do convey a sense of the Icelandic whimsy and forlorn longing that is best told by a peoples who live on a large, volcanic island and spend much of their year in dark and cold. As with nearly any anthology, there were stories that I enjoyed and stories that really didn't do anything for me. Among my favorites were "The Horse in Greenland" by Einar Már Guðmundsson; "Killer Whale" a very moving story by Ólafur Gunnarsson; "A Pen Changes Hands" by Óskar Árni Óskarsson; "The Most Precious Secret" by Einar Örn Gunnarsson; and "Scorn Pole" by Þórarinn Eldjárn. These stories reflect the wide diversity of the stories in the collection - from humorous to moving to reflective. Although it's never obvious or foremost in the writing (I would never consider any of these stories 'fantasy') there is a sense of the mythological history of Icelanders in the writings. Icelanders are, as a gross generalization, a superstitious lot. Only recently I read where a department of transportation re-routed a road rather than remove a large boulder because of the community's belief that elves inhabited the stone and would cause great mischief if the stone were removed. Literary fiction from a country where this would happen manages to let this sense linger in the background for those readers ready to see it. This was a nice collection and I've added some names of authors for whom I want to read more. Sadly, much of their work is yet to be translated into a language I can read. This collection contains: Foreword: Four Fragments from Reflections on Icelandic Narrative Arts - Sjón Introduction - Helen Mitsios "Self-Portrait" - Auður Jónsdóttir "Afternoon by the Pacific Ocean" - Kristín Ómarsdóttir "Escape for Men" - Gerður Kristný "The Most Precious Secret" - Einar Örn Gunnarsson "Killer Whale" - Ólafur Gunnarsson "The Secret Raven Service and Three Hens" - Þórunn Erlu-Valdimarsdóttir "One Hundred Fifty Square Meters" - Kristín Eiríksdóttir "Grass" - Andri Snær Magnason "The Black Dog" - Gyrðir Elíasson "Late Afternoon in Four Parts" - Bragi Ólafsson "SMS from Catalonia" - Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir "A Pen Changes Hands" - Óskar Árni Óskarsson "The Cook" - Óskar Magnússon "Travel Companion" - Rúnar Vignisson "Three Parables" - Magnús Sigurðsson "The Horse in Greenland" - Einar Már Guðmundsson "Laundry Day" - Ágúst Borgþór Sverrisson "Scorn Pole" - Þórarinn Eldjárn "Harmonica Sonata in C Major" - Guðmundur Andri Thorsson "The Universe and the Deep Velvet Dress" - Jón Kalman Stefánsson Looking for a good book? Out of the Blue is a beautiful collection of short fiction by Icelandic writers and as such, offers a glimpse into the life of Icelanders. It is a marvelous collection and well worth reading. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Leif

    Midway through reading this book I was struck by the richness but also its relative publishing foreignness. I knew some of the names here (Sjón and Jón Kalman Stefánsson in particular, but also Gyrdir Eliasson, who has an excellent book of short stories in English, and Audur Ava Olafsdottir, whose The Greenhouse sits on my stack of novels to read. (Her story here "SMS from Catalonia" is minor but very endearing and well crafted.) Of the rest, I checked and with a rare exception of Andri Snaer Ma Midway through reading this book I was struck by the richness but also its relative publishing foreignness. I knew some of the names here (Sjón and Jón Kalman Stefánsson in particular, but also Gyrdir Eliasson, who has an excellent book of short stories in English, and Audur Ava Olafsdottir, whose The Greenhouse sits on my stack of novels to read. (Her story here "SMS from Catalonia" is minor but very endearing and well crafted.) Of the rest, I checked and with a rare exception of Andri Snaer Magnason's work, including Lovestar, many of these writers are finding their way into English for either a first time or with former translations having fallen out of print. So this is a rare compilation of stories and one possessed of considerable heft. The stories themselves traverse a diverse range of subjects and positions but mostly fall into an intimate and personal vision of domestic and professional relationships. Sudden twists and turns are largely subtle but feel appropriate. There are exceptions: Þórarinn Eldjárn's slight but curious fable of revenge and madness is interesting and Jón Kalman Stefánsson's "The Universe and the Deep Velvet Dress" narrates the intensities of a suddenly Latinate businessman turned astrologer with verve and mystery both equally intact. Kristín Eiríksdóttir's "One Hundred Fifty Square Meters" begins with a modern problem of apartment finding and ends with a curiously involved meditation on nostalgia and nationalist pasts. Early stories by Gerður Kristný ("Escape for Men") and Auður Jónsdóttir ("Self-Portrait") trace gendered issues with remarkable clarity. In terms of narrative promise, Ólafur Gunnarsson's "Killer Whale" certainly took the deepest plunge into the short story's often promised magnification of a single theme by way of a shock or revelation. Some stories don't quite deliver on their narrative promise, however – I liked Bragi Ólafsson's "Late Afternoon in Four Parts" and Óskar Masnússon's "The Cook" but felt that neither exploited the narrative charge that was implicit in the stories' set ups. There were a couple of stories where I lost patience, but that's only natural with a collection such as this one. I will also say as a fan of Sjon that the book is worth finding just to skim his brief foreword – it's a lovely little piece of scholarship and whimsy – "four fragments" of jagged wisdom. The book may be a bit expensive for casual readers, but if you can find it in a library, give it a go! Icelandic literature is demonstrated here in its rich contemporary tapestry, and you'll have to search far to find its source material otherwise. Disclosure: I received a review copy of Out of the Blue from NetGallery in return for an honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    William Kirkland

    While collecting my memories and sorting through photos from a recent trip to Iceland I came across an unexpected book, not one in my usual train of thought but of immediate interest: Out of the Blue: New Short Fiction from Iceland, 2017, University of Minnesota Press, edited by Helen Mitsios. What a good companion for you, me or friends for some future trip! The wonderful Whereabouts Press doesn’t have an Iceland volume yet, so turn to this. The book is composed of twenty stories by as many auth While collecting my memories and sorting through photos from a recent trip to Iceland I came across an unexpected book, not one in my usual train of thought but of immediate interest: Out of the Blue: New Short Fiction from Iceland, 2017, University of Minnesota Press, edited by Helen Mitsios. What a good companion for you, me or friends for some future trip! The wonderful Whereabouts Press doesn’t have an Iceland volume yet, so turn to this. The book is composed of twenty stories by as many authors, all alive and writing today. Some are as short as a single page, one 15 pages and most about ten. A few connect themselves to the great Icelandic Sagas but most are wry, amusing stories of life in modern Iceland, many of them in Reykjavik, the capital where one-third of the population lives. In fact, these urban stories have more poets and writers as their protagonists than you are likely to find in such stories from other shores. Long winters and long traditions of communal story telling, pride in doing it well, coupled to a modern sensibility makes this a fine introduction — though not a one about volcanoes, shaggy horses or near-death on a glacier. I had my favorites, of course. “The Secret Raven Service and the Three Hens,” one of those which links back to Viking myths of the past — “Ravens are emblems of the head god, Odin”– begins a bit gruesomely but the fact that the witness, a young girl, is more curious than frightened, and nonchalantly brave, carries us through to the beguiling story she has to tell. I marked it with a big ! for a complete review see http://www.allinoneboat.org/iceland-v...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jule

    I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. How many authors from Iceland do you know by name? Right. I love opportunities like this short story collection not also to dive into another culture and writing style, but also to explore a variety of authors without committing to the full price and page number of a novel. Any literary collection is always a mixed bag (the only reason for the 4/5 rating, which should be more like 4,8/5), but this was one with a partic I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. How many authors from Iceland do you know by name? Right. I love opportunities like this short story collection not also to dive into another culture and writing style, but also to explore a variety of authors without committing to the full price and page number of a novel. Any literary collection is always a mixed bag (the only reason for the 4/5 rating, which should be more like 4,8/5), but this was one with a particularly high amount of sweet pieces. The stories are by authors from Iceland, but not necessarily set there, though the large majority of the characters are Icelandic, too. They deal with the big and small issues of life - from something as severe and sad as death to something so mundane as mowing grass. All of the stories have a certain mysticism to them, whether it is the magic of mundane objects (as one of my favorite stories, the shortest in the collection describes: "A Pen Changes Hands"), the life-changing possibilities of decisions and experiences ("SMS from Catalonia") or the powerful belief in Nordic mythology and superstition. At the core of it all were relationships of all forms, from sweet teenage love to creepy parental responsibilities (another favorite of mine: "Late Afternoon in Four Parts"). The tone throughout the collection must be a representation of the Icelandic way of life: human, subtle, unexcited, everyday - but containing deep truths and a calm reminder not to worry. A big kudos to the editor, who picked a great selection, as well as to all the translators. I hope to read (a lot) more literature from Iceland (and other foreign places) in the future!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Siobhan

    Out of the Blue is a varied collection of Icelandic short fiction in translation that provides an excellent and enlightening introduction to modern Icelandic literature. The stories have varied lengths and themes that will appeal to a variety of readers, but some of the major topics that are prevalent in the stories include travel, relationships, and strange occurrences. The variety of the selection allows the book to feel like a broad introduction to Icelandic fiction. Some of the tales feature Out of the Blue is a varied collection of Icelandic short fiction in translation that provides an excellent and enlightening introduction to modern Icelandic literature. The stories have varied lengths and themes that will appeal to a variety of readers, but some of the major topics that are prevalent in the stories include travel, relationships, and strange occurrences. The variety of the selection allows the book to feel like a broad introduction to Icelandic fiction. Some of the tales feature the geography and dramatic features of Iceland, whereas others feature Icelandic people abroad, on holiday looking for past loves or encountering migrant issues in other countries. A light hearted story about the troubles of renting a flat in Iceland has universal appeal for anyone living in a city with housing issues. Multiple of the works featured look at acts of poetry, art, and creativity, exploring where art and success come from. Another recurring concept in the book is he complexity of human relationships, from marriage and past loves to the difficulties of caring for a terminally ill child. With a useful introduction giving a short history of Icelandic fiction and details on the cultural ideas about writing that inform the works, this collection is an accessible and enjoyable way to read fiction from a country that many people will not have read any books from. The stories also open up ways in which people in Iceland interact with the rest of the world and by having these in translation an English speaking audience is given a chance to appreciate these works and perhaps be inspired to read more Icelandic books.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lea

    A wonderful sampler of current Icelandic fiction. The stories took me beyond my limited view of Icelandic writing, mainly consisting of noir, sagas, Halldor Laxness writings or quirky supernatural stories. Yet, many of these stories had elements of what I listed; they were so much more, though. Definitely a good way to pursue specific authors, which I will be doing.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    Didn't think the choices were too inspired. Kind of a small window to fit - short fiction and Iceland. A couple pieces were cute, but too many navel-gazing Icelanders finding themselves in tricky situations while on vacation in Europe.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rosemary

    Interesting short stories by various writers from Iceland. (I received pre-publication access through NetGalley.)

  14. 5 out of 5

    tyto

    I received this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is an interesting collection of short fiction from Iceland - I'm not really familiar with Icelandic literature, so it was a good introduction. Due to the nature of the collection (the thread between stories being the author's country rather than the type of story, etc.), the stories are from a variety of different genres and it is a little hard to rate the collection as a whole. Some of the stories feature Iceland as a major ch I received this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is an interesting collection of short fiction from Iceland - I'm not really familiar with Icelandic literature, so it was a good introduction. Due to the nature of the collection (the thread between stories being the author's country rather than the type of story, etc.), the stories are from a variety of different genres and it is a little hard to rate the collection as a whole. Some of the stories feature Iceland as a major character while other stories feature Icelandic citizens traveling or living abroad. It's a good introduction to Icelandic literature and it was a good set of stories, but I don't think I will go out of my way to seek other works by the authors.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    A great collection of Icelandic short fiction. So may subjects covered in these stories. A few were not to my taste but the majority were well written and entertaining. Some of the stories were fantastic and enchanting. Overall a varied collection that should have something for everyone.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Arja Salafranca

    This collection of short stories from Iceland showcases a fascinating range of voices, styles and thematic concerns. While some are straight-forward stories, some are laced through with darkness and strangeness. It offers an eclectic read to lovers of short fiction, as well as to those who enjoy stepping beyond the shore of English, to read in translation. Some of the highlights include: Auður Jónsdóttir’s ‘Self-Portrait’, in which a family summers in Spain, and the mother of the piece is foreve This collection of short stories from Iceland showcases a fascinating range of voices, styles and thematic concerns. While some are straight-forward stories, some are laced through with darkness and strangeness. It offers an eclectic read to lovers of short fiction, as well as to those who enjoy stepping beyond the shore of English, to read in translation. Some of the highlights include: Auður Jónsdóttir’s ‘Self-Portrait’, in which a family summers in Spain, and the mother of the piece is forever changed by travel, as travel so often does and from experiences we least expect: “She’s not the person who left anymore; she can’t see home the same way again.” The foreign features again in Einar Örn Gunnarsson’s ‘The Most Precious Secret’, an astounding story about an Icelandic artist in search of fame in Barcelona. While waiting for his new life to begin, “In his heart he often cried and longed to die and be relieved of the painful burden of being a daily witness to how cruel life can be to delicate dreams.” And delicate dreams will crumble away like ash as he cruelly and forcefully witnesses the artifice of the art world he has sought to enter, and the capriciousness of other human beings. A brilliant story. In another powerful story, ‘Killer Whale’ by Ólafur Gunnarsson, a divorced father picks up his terminally ill child to go whale watching of an afternoon. The story is laden with undercurrents, regret, and the love that leads a parent to contemplate the unthinkable. In ‘Travel Companion’ by Rúnar Helgi Vignisson, a woman on a hiking trip sends back text messages to her partner – but a recent rift has taken place. The story is both a travel trip – and a hesitant examination of the wounds of that relationship, which won’t be easy to heal, “after what was said. Actually, it’s not certain there’s any desire to do so. Something has to give. Something will give”.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jana Tenbrook (Reviews from the Stacks)

    Commentary to come

  18. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Weaver

  19. 5 out of 5

    Pau

  20. 4 out of 5

    Katie Evans

  21. 5 out of 5

    Luis Gómez Chow

  22. 4 out of 5

    jennet wheatstonelllsl Proc

  23. 5 out of 5

    John Barr

  24. 4 out of 5

    Laurie Anderson

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sigrid

  26. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  27. 5 out of 5

    Martaelag

  28. 5 out of 5

    Benji Geyer

  29. 5 out of 5

    Taylor Rothenberg-Manley

  30. 5 out of 5

    Allison

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