6 Sep 2010

"101 Reykjavik" - 101 girls and 1 lonesome Icelandic guy

Meet Hlynur Bjorn, a strange character invented by Icelandic author Hallgrimur Helgason. Hlynur is an unemployed thirty-something loner/loser who still lives with his mother (who by the way buys his underwear) and whose primary relationships are with the Internet, the satellite TV, and a few friends who resembles him.
"101 Reykjavik" is the tale of Hlynur and the women he spends most of his time thinking about. All women are rated on scale depending on looks - a scale that Hlynur himself would definitly not top.
Hlynur's mother comes out as a lesbian and her girlfriend Lolla moves in, meanwhile Hlynur is still somewhat tangled up in a relationship with his exgirlfriend. This is a comic, dark tale with lots of funny moments as Hlynur describes his difficulties with ladies and his many trials as he accidentally impregnates not one, not two but three women... Quite an achievement when you take into consideration how little masculinity Hlynur actually possesses.

Helgason captures the rough beauty of Iceland (if you haven't been there do go, it is amazing!) and the smallness of its capital Reykjavik. A city where everybody knows everyone and where nothing can be kept a secret. It is also a poignant commentary on modern life, especially the bizarre ways that sex is everywhere - on TV and the internet.
It is a narrative that sometimes repulses but mostly amsuses.

And this is number two in my quest to complete the Scandinavian Reading Challenge!


  1. Nice review, Willa! I liked your description of Reykjavik - "A city where everybody knows everyone and where nothing can be kept a secret". It made me remember a book which I read sometime back called 'The Georgraphy of Bliss' by Eric Weiner, where the writer travels to different countries to find out why people are happy and goes to Iceland too as part of his project. I remember him saying something similar in this book. Have you read this book?

  2. Thanks Vishy! No I haven't but I will have a look at it on amazon, it sounds really interesting! I like the idea of exploring what makes people happy in different parts of the world. Reykjavik is an acquired taste I would say - a bit small for my taste - but beautiful!