ISBN-10: 1948830760
ISBN-13: 9781948830768
Publisher: Open Letter
Publish Date: 05/09/2023
Dimensions: 8.00" L, 4.95" W, 0.45" H


Translator: Lytton Smith


Price: $15.95


How do you turn old gold into priceless treasure?

At the turn of the twentieth century, Sigurlina finds herself in a hopeless situation. She is the
motherless daughter of an eccentric father, who expects her to spend her life helping him
catalogue Icelandic archaeological artifacts.
But Sigurlina has her own ambitions of education and excitement and after a harrowing
experience, takes fate into her own hands. She disappears from Reykjavik, along with a historical
relic from her father’s collection. Through a series of incredible events, the artifact is unveiled at
The Metropolitan Museum of New York. Meanwhile, officials in Iceland launch their own
investigation into the theft of the artifact.
A tragicomic tale about the preservation of cultural treasure, an intriguing perspective on the
coincidences that have determined their place in history and a thrilling and winding story of the
human fates that underpin it all.

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Praise for History. A Mess:

"Absolutely brilliant from beginning to end."–Halla Oddný Magnúsdóttir, National TV

"A complex and arresting novel where a super precise style and an ingenious construction come together."–Nomination Committee for the Women's Literature Prize

"Like a cubist work of art."–Jóhanna María Einarsdóttir, DV

"As her state of mind becomes increasingly fraught, Lytton Smith's adept translation skillfully conveys [the narrator's] neurotic, internal experience, which often expresses possibilities, thoughts, speculation, and interpretations instead of an external reality."–Callum McAllister, Asymptote Journal

"History. A Mess is at once a disturbing but riveting portrait of a glassy psyche and an enlightening critique of the constraints and pressures of modern scholarship."–Bailey Trela, Ploughshares

"Fans of the nouveau roman–Marguerite Duras, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Nathalie Sarraute, etc.–will be right at home here."–Kirkus Reviews

"Pálsdóttir writes with the hand of a mystery author and the mind of a postmodernist, teasing out her protagonist's problem while playing with literary forms, fragmenting timelines, and injecting fierce irony."–Publishers Weekly

"Its ambition is met with resounding success every step of the way."–Books and Bao

"What I admire most about Pálsdóttir's writing is her ability to hide a strictly structured course of events under a gliding, occasionally deliberately (but not distractingly) chaotic style; her ability to orchestrate the random; to construct a perspective for the narrator that, most of the time, reveals both everything and nothing about what is actually going on; and the way she covers real tensions and worries with a quilt of details, as they are so often covered in life."–Rein Raud, European Literature Network

More Reviews


ISBN-10: 1948830760
ISBN-13: 9781948830768
Publisher: Open Letter
Publish Date: 05/09/2023
Dimensions: 8.00" L, 4.95" W, 0.45" H
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