Hey, team. Sorry I haven't posted anything in ages. That is mostly because, confining myself to the categories that I am willing to write about on the internet, not much is happening in my life, unless you would like to hear about various parties which I have been to. Those are just stories about me drinking too much, talking rubbish and getting over-excited about songs I know. Or about me applying for jobs and not getting jobs, which is even less interesting because it's mostly filling in forms. So instead I thought I would tell you about what I'm reading.

Mávahlátur, or The Seagull's Laughter, is the name of my favourite Icelandic film. I once went to Bíó Paradís, the little cinema on Hverfisgata that shows old and slightly less mainstream films (and also the only cinema I've been to in Iceland that doesn't do intermissions), all by myself because Mávahlátur was on and I wanted to see it again. I was actually the only one there, and that's how cool I am. It is a great cinema, though, kind of like the Showroom in Sheffield for those of you who are familiar.

Anyway, this film was based on the novel of the same name by Kristín Marja Baldursdóttir, which I am currently about three quarters of the way through. I suppose essentially it's about women, more specifically Icelandic women in a little fishing town somewhere near Reykjavík in the 1950s. Of course there are male characters, but it's the women that run the show. Freyja comes back from America one Easter Day, where she emigrated after the war. Her US Army husband is now dead, and she moves into a little house that's already full of women: the orphaned Agga, her grandmother, two aunts and her grandfather's sister. Agga's grandfather is the only man in the house, and he's a fisherman, out to sea for long periods anyway. The expensively-dressed, purportedly vegetarian Freyja with her long hair and unnervingly pale eyes causes a bit of a sensation, especially when she gets involved with the son of the late doctor, a member of the town's upper class. This social drama / battle of the sexes takes place against a backdrop of post-war economic depression and male political unrest. So you've got class and politics and gender issues, all with a genuinely entertaining plot and some of the most beautifully drawn characters I've ever come across. It's a really excellent book - seriously the characterisation is so sharp and witty and it's brilliantly written. As far as I can judge such a thing, not being a native speaker of Icelandic. If you can read Icelandic (or I think it has been translated into Dutch and German), you should totally give it a go! Otherwise, you should try and get hold of the film, or simply wait many, many years for me to become an acclaimed literary translator, because this is a novel I would absolutely love to do.


  1. One of my favorite films- I even bought a copy of the DVD. Hurry up and become an acclaimed translator, there are a lot of Icelandic books I'd love to read! ;-)

  2. I was going to buy the DVD, but I could only find a US region one, so it wouldn't have worked in the UK. I guess I could probably get an Icelandic copy here, though.

  3. I also have a copy of the film. I would imagine the book to be even better.

  4. http://icelandiccinemaonline.com/film/The-Seagulls-Laughter

    For anyone who's interested in (re)seeing it.