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On the Edge: Writing from Iceland

April 2021

April-2021-Writing-From-Iceland-Hallgerdur-Hallgrimsdottir-Untitled
Image: Hallgerður Hallgrímsdóttir, Untitled, from the series The Light of Day, 2011.

Image: Hallgerður Hallgrímsdóttir, Untitled, from the series The Light of Day, 2011.


This month we present fiction and poetry from Iceland, a nation on the precipice of devastating and irreversible natural loss. The writers appearing here address not only the climate crisis but also family dynamics, intimate partnerships, shattered ideals, and thwarted hopes, providing a revealing portrait of a country in a time of global and local upheaval. Thórdís Helgadóttir creates an island community with an undertow of menace. Fríða Ísberg tests the limits of homebound ambition, while Steinunn G. Helgadóttir dispatches naive aid workers to a Greek refugee camp. Poets Bergrún Anna Hallsteinsdóttir and Haukur Ingvarsson consider the connection between humans and the natural world. And in tales of intimate relationships, Eva Rún Snorradóttir’s lesbian couple meets with mansplaining at every turn; Björn Halldórsson follows an abandoned husband seeking his happily married brother’s counsel; and Thora Hjórleifsdóttir monitors a dream romance turning ominous. Guest editor Larissa Kyzer contributes several translations and an illuminating introduction.       

On the Periphery
By Larissa Kyzer
The scope of the topics explored in this issue is, therefore, necessarily broad without being comprehensive.
The Sea Gives Us Children
By Thórdís Helgadóttir
Karen says she’s seen it when the souls begin their perambulations.
Translated from Icelandic by Larissa Kyzer
MultimediaMultilingual
April 2021 At Journeys End Iceland Life Jackets Feature
At Journey’s End
By Steinunn G. Helgadóttir
This last shift, the boats came in all night and we ran out of everything.
Translated from Icelandic by Larissa Kyzer
Multimedia
It’s difficult to calculate the influence of the missus of the night
By Bergrún Anna Hallsteinsdóttir
it’s difficult to appraise the unseeable
Translated from Icelandic by Meg Matich
Multimedia
Blue Days
By Fríða Ísberg
That same month, she realizes that she’s never going to stop striving as long as she’s in Reykjavik.
Translated from Icelandic by Larissa Kyzer
Sinkings
By Haukur Ingvarsson
the glacier is black / polar bears run on hot sand
Translated from Icelandic by Meg Matich
Multimedia
The Husband and His Brother
By Björn Halldórsson
When Böddi came back to Iceland a month later, he was engaged.
Translated from Icelandic by Larissa Kyzer
MultimediaMultilingual
In Human-Made Society
By Eva Rún Snorradóttir
In order to get a visa, they had to explain to him how two women went about having sex.
Translated from Icelandic by Larissa Kyzer
Magma
By Thora Hjórleifsdóttir
He gets irritated, even seems hurt, if I put on makeup, and he asks accusingly, “Who are you doing that for?”
Translated from Icelandic by Meg Matich
MultimediaMultilingual
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