At last some progress on my #20BooksOfSummer project – I’ve read number 2 and submitted my review to Shiny New Books and will post here when that goes live, so you’ll just have to believe I’ve read that one (it was Mitch Prinstein’s “Popular”) and move on to Book 3. This was a swap for “Old Filth” which I’ve discovered I still just don’t want to read – fortunately, I had a few books waiting around I could swap, and this was the earliest published on my NetGalley list so got to hop into its place. Now, read on to marvel at a massive assumption I made about books by Icelandic authors …

Helen Mitsios – “Out of the Blue”

(E-book 8 June 2017)

Thanks to the publisher and to NetGalley for making this book available in return for an honest review.

This is a collection of Icelandic short fiction, I’m assuming fairly new pieces. I  was initially surprised to encounter Icelanders on summer holidays in Europe, on the beach and so forth! All the other Icelandic fiction I’ve read so far has only ventured as far as other Scandinavian countries, and so it was interesting to read about Icelandic folk in these places.

Some of the stories were a little bit gruesome or unpleasant – but I was expecting more of this and there certainly wasn’t any of the deeply bloody Scandi-noir you find in so many of the novels – an Unpleasantness or two, one for comic effect, and certainly not what I’d call gratuitous (there is a sad pet bit, in the Raven story, so you might want to avoid that one). Some  other stories were dreamy and a bit surreal, which I would expect.

I particularly liked the incursion of Icelandic texts into the stories, especially in “Afternoon by the Pacific Ocean” by Kristin Omarsdottir, which sees Marilyn Monroe and Greta Garbo curling up to read Egill’s Saga to one another! There are also surprising twists and funny or heart-wrenching endings and outcomes, and I particularly liked the clever very short piece, “A Pen Changes Hands” by Oskar Arni Oskarsson. As a whole, I think the collection gives a good overview of the range of Icelandic writing, and it’s also full of the ironic, deadpan style I’ve liked from the sagas through Laxness to modern novels.

This was Book 3 in my #2oBooksOfSummer project 2017.

I’ve read Book 4 and I’m currently on Book 5, Natasha Solomon’s “The Gallery of Vanished Husbands”, which is just starting to hot up. How are you getting on if you’re doing the challenge?