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10.10.2011

 

Bankster, A Squirrel with Wanderlust and At the Sand River ..... new literature from Iceland quickly discussed on GoSee

We met Guðmundur Óskarsson at Laundromat, a pretty hip new 'bar with a laundrette in the cellar' in Downtown Reykjavik. Could be London or Europe in general for that matter. We learn that Guðmundur managed to survive the crisis. He still works for a bank, still, even after the crisis. Many of his colleagues were not quite as lucky. It seems that he benefited from the fact that he had not been involved in the banking business directly but merely headed the print division.

This is what Guðmundur has to say about his unbelievable successful book, Bankser: "Somehow it doesn't feel right to humor the phenomenon "financial crisis", despite it's name. Putting it on our list feels outright wrong, especially from where I’m sitting, in financial meltdown HQ, Iceland. The buildings are still standing, the roads still winding, we have no railroads to worry about end every winter the great weather deposits loads of snow in the high lands for us to turn into electricity come spring ... the fish are hard at work having offspring, so are the sheep, cows, horses ... the cold air is clean, the hot water tamed and the fact that I don’t have any more fake money to spend on things I want rather than need has made life simpler, purer, more …. there is more life to existing, less fantasizing about how it will turn out"

Speaking of which – his book Bankster hit German bookshops in 2011. Is tells of the personal crisis of a young bank manager, whose life flies off the rails due to the worldwide crisis. It doubles up as a portrait of a society spoiled by progress and greedy for profit, the economic optimism of which, as well as the faithful belief in growth, are severely shaken.

Gyrðir Elíasson was presented with the literature award by the Nordic Counsel 2011 and is considered one of the rejuvenators of Icelandic literature. He was born in Reykjavik on the 4th of April 1961. He grew up in Northern Iceland (Sauðárkrókur) and used to live in Western Iceland for some time (Borgarnes and Akranes), before moving to Reykjavik.

Gyrðir already published many works of different kinds, poetry collections, novels and short stories. He is a busy translator, working on books by and about indigenous Americans and translated four novels by American author Richard Brautigan.

Gyrðir Elíasson received numerous awards for his books. In 2011, the poetry collection 'A few general words on the freezing sun' will be published in German (Kleinheinrich) and the novel 'At the Sand river', which – according to the back of the book – is “a tranquil meditation on man, nature and art”. Read an extract HERE. Sadly, it seems an English translation of Elíasson’s work is not available just yet, but you could always learn Icelandic or brush up on your German.

“A Squirrel with Wanderlust” is another one of Elíasson's novels, which tells the story of Icelandic boy Sigmar, who seeks to escape the blatant boredom of everyday life and descends into a self-made painting – in the form of a squirrel. A journey that will turn his world upside down.

Bankster
Frankfurter Verlagsanstalt
330 Pages
€ 22,90

Am Sandfluss
Author: Gyrðir Elíasson
Illustrator: Laura Jurt
137 Pages, 13,5 x 19,0 cm
Translated by Betty Wahl
ISBN 978-3-03774-039-2

Ein Eichhörnchen auf Wanderschaft
Author: Gyrðir Elíasson
Illustrator: Laura Jurt
112 Pages, 13,5 x 19,0 cm
with many coloured illustrations
translated from Icelandic by Gert Kreutzer
ISBN 978-3-03774-020-0
26.00 CHF / 18.95 EUR [D] / 19.50 EUR [A]

If you are interested in literature, art, politics or contemporary issues at the book fair, head to REYKJAVIK GRAPEVINE ("Your essential guide to life, travel and entertainment in Iceland"). The English magazine is published 18 times per year and covers recent trends and developments in Reykjavik and suburbia.