Named after one of Iceland’s most magnificent volcanoes, Hekla always knew she wanted to be a writer. In a nation of poets, where each household proudly displays leather bound volumes of the Sagas, and there are more writers per capita than anywhere else in the world, there is only one problem: she is a woman.
She decides to try her luck in Reykjavik, and moves in with her friend Jon, a gay man who longs to work in the theatre, but can only find dangerous, backbreaking work on fishing trawlers. Hekla’s opportunities are equally limited: marriage and babies, or a job as a waitress, in which harassment from customers is part of the daily grind. They both feel completely out of place in a small and conservative world.
And yet that world is changing: JFK is shot, hemlines are rising, and in Iceland another volcano erupts, and Hekla knows she must escape to find freedom abroad, whatever must be left behind.
NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS
“Miss Iceland is a story of Hekla, named after one of Iceland’s most famous volcanos. A brilliant young woman who wants to be a writer in 1960s Iceland. A story about countless women burdened with what they don’t want, and unable to have what they should be allowed, what they desire, what they deserve.
Hekla is a woman we grow to love and admire, a woman trodden on by a world so ordinary and unkind. It’s a beautifully written story about good people in a bad world.
The book was nominated to the Icelandic Literature Prize in 2018 and won the Employees of Booksellers award in Iceland for best novel 2019. It won Prix Médicis étranger in 2019.”
Reykjavik City Library, Iceland