I just wanted to give a quick shout-out to Christina Sunley and her book The Tricking of Freya
[Freyjuginning in Icelandic], which I recently finished reading and which I think is perfect for the Icelandophiles in the crowd.
The main protagonist, Freyja, is a young American girl [and later woman] of Icelandic descent, who spends her summers in Gimli, Manitoba, with her grandmother and aunt. The story later moves to Iceland, where Freyja is thrown into some harrowing circumstances. That trip has a major impact on her, and she must eventually revisit the Old Country in order to make sense of them and move on.
I’m being deliberately vague here so as not to give anything away. Let’s just say there’s a dark family secret and some fairly surprising twists involved, twists that completely managed to catch me off guard [which I don’t have to tell you is a Good Thing]. And in addition to the plot and action, I found the portrayal of Western Icelanders and their relationship with the Old Country très interesting. They totally resonated with me [unsurprisingly, since they’re very much a part of my background] and what’s more, I found them completely realistic and believable — this sense of alienation from the Old Country, the watered-down traditions that somehow became distorted and disfigured in the New World, and yet this unspeakable longing for something that can only be found there. Also this absence of purpose and sense of drifting that comes from being in that space, and the necessity of returning to one’s roots and coming to terms with one’s own truth in order to be whole.
I read the book in translation — i.e. the Icelandic version — and I’m happy to say that it was very good. Being a translator myself I tend to be critical and so it is always a delight to find a translation that can totally hold its own. So big shout-out to Þórdís Bachmann for a job well done.
Finally, Christina will be in Reykjavík next week and will give two readings from The Tricking of Freyja. On Monday, May 31 at 16.30 she will be at the Culture House in Reykjavík, where she’ll read from the book, talk about her relationship to Iceland and answer questions. On Tuesday, June 1 she’ll be at Reykjavíkur Akademían [the Reykjavík Academy] on Hringbraut 121, 4th floor, at 16.00 where she’ll read from the book and be part of a panel discussion on Icelanders’ emigration to the West, both past and present. Both will be very interesting, I’m sure.
* That’s an affiliate link, just so you know. Which doesn’t mean I don’t mean every word I write in this post.