When it’s cold outside, finding a snug corner inside and flipping through a book is one of the best ways to spend your time. Are you looking for suggestions on what to read this winter? In this article, we will tell you about five Icelandic books waiting to be unravelled.
CoDex 1962 by Sjón (2018)
CoDex 1962 is a mythological trilogy following Leo and Jósef Loewe. The first part is a love story in which we get to know Jósef’s father Leo, a Jewish fugitive in Germany during World War II. He takes refuge in a small-town guesthouse and bonds with the maid who nurses him back to health. Together, they shape a piece of clay into a baby. The second part is a crime story. We follow Leo as he flees to Iceland with the clay baby in a box, and witness how he quickly becomes entangled in a murder mystery. And finally, in 1962, the clay baby, named Jósef, comes to life. In the third part is a science-fiction story set in modern-day Reykjavík. The now middle-aged Jósef, who grew up with a rare disease, attracts the attention of a greedy geneticist. The reader learns more about how Jósef came to be, and simultaneously, the dangerous path waiting for humankind. The book is translated into English by Victoria Cribb and is published by Sceptre.
The Wrath of Ragnarök by Þórhallur Arnórsson, Jón Páll Halldórsson, Þórir Karl Bragason (2017)
The Wrath of Ragnarök is a graphic novel spread over several books, inspired by original Norse mythology. The book starts with a retired Viking called Vikar, who is looking to live a peaceful life with his newborn. The reader follows him on a journey that will eventually cross paths with the gods of Valhalla. There, Óðinn realises Ragnarök, the destruction of the cosmos and everything in it – even the gods – is approaching. Óðinn is planning to change the gods’ destiny at any cost, thereby bringing about an age of terror and conflict known as the wolf age. The book is published in both English and Icelandic. The Wrath of Ragnarök contains the first two chapters of the novel: An Ominous Calm and A Taste of Blood.
Rupture by Ragnar Jónasson (2017)
Rupture is a Nordic noir novel set in the isolated Héðinsfjörður fjord. It’s part of the Dark Iceland series revolving around young policeman Ari Thór. Two young couples move to Héðinsfjörður but their stay ends abruptly when one of the four dies, supposedly from ingesting rat poison. Fifty years later, an old photograph is found showing the couples might have not been alone at the fjord. In a nearby town, Siglufjörður, Ari tries to find out what exactly happened, but quickly notices that the townspeople are not eager to help. Ísrún, a reporter from Reykjavík (who some readers might know from Blackout), who is investigating a case in the area, assists Ari in his search for answers. Things get even worse when a child goes missing and a man is killed, and it becomes clear that the past is still haunting the area. Rupture is a dark and mysterious thriller from one of Iceland’s most prominent crime writers.
Glacier by Ragnar Axelsson (2018)
Glacier is a photobook by Ragnar Axelsson, one of Iceland’s best-known photographers. Previously, he focused people and lifestyles in the Arctic region including Iceland, Greenland, and Siberia, with stunning portraits of disappearing lifestyles. This time, his topic is Iceland’s glaciers, landscapes devoid of people. Having grown up near glaciers and flown his plane over them many times, Ragnar developed a lifelong fascination for these natural wonders. Icelandic glaciers receded a lot in the past decades, and if the current rate keeps up, they might disappear completely in 150-200 years. Glacier is an ode to the glaciers. His previous book, The Face of the North, won the Icelandic Book Prize in 2016.
Into Oblivion by Arnaldur Indriðason (2016)
Into Oblivion is one of multiple books by Arnaldur Indriðason circling round detective Erlendur. It’s the sequel to Reykjavík Nights following Erlendur in his earlier years. Into Oblivion is set in 1979, Erlender just started as detective and is working for Marion Briem. In the Blue Lagoon, long before it was discovered by tourists, a body of a man is found. Signs on the body show that it fell from great heights and that it could have been thrown out of an airplane. But that’s not the only case he needs to work on, as he is asked to investigate the cold case of a young girl who disappeared on her way to school many years ago. Fans of Nordic noir will not be disappointed by this thrilling read.