Sunday, November 24, 2019
Books: "A Fist or a Heart," Acclaimed In Iceland, Now In America
A Fist or a Heart
By Kristin Eiriksdottir; translated by Larissa Kyzer
Amazon Crossing; hardcover, $24.95; paperback, $14.95; Kindle eBook, $4.99
The novel A Fist or a Heart was originally published in Iceland as Elin ymislegt, and won the 2017 Icelandic Literary Prize, as well as the 2018 Icelandic Women's Literature Prize.
Poet, playwright and novelist Kristin Eiriksdottir's work asks provocative questions about memory, the longing for human connection, the redemptive power of the creative process and the difficulty of communicating through art, the struggle against isolation and loneliness, the after-effects of trauma, and when, if ever, we have an obligation to come forward with the truth.
Kristin is also a trained visual artist, and this background informs her fascination with the artistic process as well as the many ways in which women's perceptions of themselves often differ from how people perceive them.
A Fist or a Heart is centered on Elin Jonsdottir, who is an isolated septuagenarian props-maker in Reykjavik, Iceland. Her work making gory prosthetics and gruesome models for theatrical productions and Nordic crime flicks is the only thing that really brings joy to her.
Elin has recently become preoccupied with another loner, Ellen Alfsdottir, an eccentric and sensitive young playwright and the illegitimate daughter of a famous writer who died when she was a young child. The girl creates maternal feelings in Elin, but she also stirs discomfiting memories long packed away.
Elin and Ellen's paths have crossed before, and one doesn't remember that, while the other is about to forget.
A Fist or a Heart steps into the interior lives of these two women, connected not only by chance but by undisclosed traumas and emotional truths that even they are not fully prepared to accept. Skipping back and forth in Elin's rapidly deteriorating memory, ths sardonic, inventive, and original work blurs the boundaries of reality and perception, the memories of what was with regrets of what might have been. This landmark work definitely pulls no punches and is supported by hope, humor, and redemption.