Gifts aren’t the only things to look forward to this time of the year, and I hope you have space on those bookshelves. Jolabokaflod, or the Christmas Book Flood, is coming.
What Is Jolabokaflod- A History
Since 1944 when Iceland gained independence from Denmark in World War 2, the Icelandic book trade has published a catalog – called Bókatíðindi (‘Book Bulletin’) – that is sent to every household in the country in mid-November during the Reykjavik Book Fair. Paper was one of the few commodities not rationed during the war, so Icelanders shared their love of books even more as other types of gifts were in short supply. This is how the Book Flood began.
Getting Into The Jolabokaflod Spirit
Here are some Iceland themed recommendations to get into the Book Flood spirit.
Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was by Sjón
An eclectic Iceland novel where magical realism meets historical fiction. Set in Iceland, it addresses larger political issues and the LGBT+ community with a statement about a young boy surviving widespread flu versus another gay man dying of AIDS offers readers a powerful statement on prejudice and misconception.
Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution. Riveting and rich with lyricism, Burial Rites evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?
Angels of the Universe by Einar Mar Gudmundsson
Angels of the Universe itself is profound, hilarious, and deeply heartbreaking. Read this Icelandic novel for insight into mid to present Icelandic history, as well as a taste of Icelandic humor. Set in Iceland, the story takes place in Klepp, an Icelandic psychiatric facility and follows schizophrenic Paul as he grapples with reality. Paul recounts his life growing up as he gradually descends into madness. The novel jumps back and forth between past and present, helping to highlight Paul’s erratic mind.