Today I have a review of A Fist or a Heart by Kristin Eiriksdottir, translated by Larissa Kyzer, and publishing today via Amazon Crossing. A big thank you to Megan Beatie for the gorgeous complimentary copy.
I recently read The Glass Woman, which was set in Iceland, and lamented wanting to read more books set in Iceland. Imagine my surprise when I picked up A Fist or a Heart, now an award-winning novel set in Iceland.
Elin Jonsdottir, in her early seventies, is living a lonely life in Reykjavik. She makes props for crime movies. Elin’s interest is piqued by Ellen Alfsdottir, also a bit of a loner, as well as playwright and daughter of a writer. These two have a connection, but only one remembers how.
Elin and Ellen have much in common, and they begin to share and find that connection. The only thing is Elin is beginning to lose her connection with reality at the same time.
It’s no wonder A Fist or a Heart has won literary accolades. The writing in itself is a loving, living, breathing work of art. Then we have the characters who made me feel so much empathy I could cry when I reflect on the emotions in me brought out by them and their stories, sorrows, and strengths.
Overall, A Fist or a Heart is a slim narrative but one that is filled with feeling and beauty above all else. It’s quite literary and while it may not be for everyone because of that, A Fist or a Heart is a unique and indelible story.
I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.
About the Book:
The past returns with a fury for a woman coming to terms with her life in this award-winning novel by an acclaimed Icelandic author making her English-language debut.
Elín Jónsdóttir lives an isolated existence in Reykjavík, Iceland, making props and prosthetics for theatrical productions and Nordic crime flicks. In her early seventies, she has recently become fascinated with another loner, Ellen Álfsdóttir, a sensitive young playwright and illegitimate daughter of a famous writer. The girl has aroused maternal feelings in Elín, but she has also stirred discomfiting memories long packed away. Because their paths have crossed before. One doesn’t remember. The other is about to forget.
Soon they’ll discover all they have in common: difficult childhoods, trauma, and being outliers who have found space to breathe in creative expression. Yet the more Elín tries to connect with the young woman and unbox painful memories, the more tenuous her grasp on reality becomes.
Winner of the Icelandic Literary Prize, A Fist or a Heart is a gripping, artfully interwoven novel of power, secrets, and isolation by one of the most bracing and original voices of the author’s generation.