Einar Mar Gudmundsson
(b. 1954) is the most widely translated Icelandic author born in the post-war period, a novelist, short-story writer and poet. A storyteller with a lyrical perceptive and humorous style, who charts the growth of urban culture in the capital and the larger-than-life characters that it spawns.
Dreams on Earth
(Draumar á jörðu, 2000)
With his latest novel, Gudmundsson reveals even more of the original perspectives on reality and myth, joy and suffering, pride and humiliation, that have made him one of the most popular and internationally acclaimed Icelandic authors living today. His new book is an independent sequel to Footprints on the Heavens. All the same characters are involved and Gudmundsson bases his story on historical sources interwoven with folklore, lyrical descriptions and flights of fancy, to create a unique depiction of life in Iceland in the first half of the twentieth century.
Footprints on the Heavens
(Fótspor á himnum, 1997)
Gudmundsson's style and narrative technique have evolved in new directions with Footprints on the Heavens. The lyrical visions and relish of nature and the supernatural are still there, but their earlier baroque exuberance has been finely hewn into almost Biblical archetypes; the characters stand out boldly from their social and physical backgrounds, larger than life but psychologically convincing.
English translation available.
Sold to: Denmark (Borgen/Vindrose), Germany (Hanser), Norway (Cappelen), Sweden (Natur och kultur), Finland (Like), Italy (Iperborea), Czech Republic (Odeon)
Angels of the Universe
(Englar alheimsins, 1993)
Nordic Council Literary Prize
Tackles the torment of psychiatric illness as experienced by the central character, who narrates his whole life from birth to death, as he gradually succumbs to the terrors of mental illness and the equally horrific treatment applied to its sufferers. Despite the air of tragedy that pervades the whole work, the tale ripples with humour as it presents a whole pantheon of colourful characters, whose inner worlds are larger than life.
A motion picture has been based on the novel, directed by Fridrik Thor Fridriksson. The movie has won prizes at several international film festivals.
Sold to: Denmark (Vindrose), Norway (Cappelen), Sweden (Natur och Kultur), Finland (Like), Germany (Hanser/Paperback rights: btb), UK (Mare's Nest), The Netherlands (De bezige bij), Italy (Iperborea), Lithuania (Tyto Alba), France (Flammarion), Spain (Siruela), USA (St. Martin«s Press), The Czech Republic (Odeon), Turkey (Acikdeniz Publishing)
"[Gudmundsson] shows that he has both the judgement and the imaginative boldness of a major writer."
Times Literary Supplement
"A chilling, hallucinatory account of an adolescent's descent into and partial recovery from schizophrenia, this intensely poetic novel ... challenges the psychiatric establishment's faith in drug-based therapy . . . Gudmundsson [portrays] Paul's excruciating mental and spiritual anguish with broad humour and piercing insight."
"... a rare, suggestive and poetic novel."
"... a saga of big events ... As in his previous works, Gudmundsson finds play, fantasy and creativity in the cold environment of the city; after all, this is where the dynamism of human life is found."