Three Books from Iceland

Iceland is a gorgeous country that I’d love to visit sometime. Unfortunately it hasn’t come to that yet, so for now, I’ll have to survive with just some books from the region. Below you’ll find three very different Icelandic books that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.


Cover of 'The Fish Can Sing' with a village next to the water


The Fish Can Sing

The Fish Can Sing is written by Halldór Kiljan Laxness and translated by Magnus Magnusson. Laxness is one of the most well-known Icelandic authors and even won a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1955. Many of his books have been translated into several languages, so you should have no shortage of choice of where to start with his works. I think his most famous work is Independent People, but here I’ll recommend The Fish Can Sing, because I loved the experience of reading it. It’s a book for people who like very quiet, slow novels. There’s not a whole lot of plot, but there are enough eccentric characters to keep you busy. It’s comedic, it’s sad, and it’s mostly very beautiful and thought-provoking.


Cover of 'Zombie Iceland' with a female zombie


Zombie Iceland

Zombie Iceland is a book written in English by Icelandic journalist Nanna Árnadóttir. After a zombie outbreak wreaks havoc on the island, three siblings try to survive in Reykjavik. As with any epic zombie story, strangers get taken up in the group, (lesbian) relationships develop, supplies run out and action is absolutely everywhere. The story is thrilling, but also pretty humorous at times. There are footnotes that explain certain cultural things for any non-Icelandic readers, and the story will teach you several random facts about life in Reykjavik, which makes this a perfect book for tourists.


Cover of 'The Blue Fox' with lettering and a blue fox


The Blue Fox

The Blue Fox, written by Sjón by translated into English by Victoria Cribb, is my favorite title on this list. It’s been a while since I read it, but I still vividly remember the range of emotions that it made me feel (if I’m being honest, I mostly remember the long stream of tears). The book is very short and I think one could call it slightly experimental. Two stories that seem to be separate from each other somehow weave together perfectly. There’s a magical fox, a hunter/reverend, an herbalist and a young woman with Downs. And there’s snow –lots and lots of snow. And for any of it to make sense, you should just pick this one up and give it go.


Cover of 'Hotel Silence' with a hotel


What’s next?

There are so many more fantastic Icelandic reads to discover. I’m currently reading a book written by a poet called Ófeigur Sigurðsson and I’m planning on reading some books by Auður Ava Olafsdóttir soon. I’m not much of a crime, thriller or detective reader, but I think it’s also time to give that genre another shot because I’ve stumbled upon quite some praised Icelandic crime authors. Do you have any recommendations for me on where to start?

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