Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I am 120 pages into The Draining Lake by Arnaldur Indridason translated from the Icelandic by Bernard Scudder, and I am totally gripped by the brilliance of their collaboration.

The sparky dialogue between Erlendur and his colleagues Elinborg and Sigurdur Oli is just right. There is the wicked humour that crackles when Erlendur and his drug addicted daughter Eva Lind are struggling to form a relationship, and the interesting back story is full of melancholy for a lost and discredited cause. This is wonderful stuff and I am wallowing in the anticipation of more to come as the novel develops.
Of course I could be influenced by the fact that my wife has had a kipper for lunch and the whole house smells like a fish shed in Reykjavik.
"You still seeing that old bag?" Eva said, fiddling with her hair.

"Stop calling her an old bag,"Erlendur said. "Valgerdur's two years younger than me."

"Right, an old bag. You still seeing her?"
Can you get away with bigamy in Iceland? Sigurdur Oli asked.
"No," Elinborg said firmly. There are too few of us."
Bernard Scudder (1955-) is a distinguished translator of Icelandic into English. He has translated old things, like Eigil's Saga and the Voluspa (The Prophecy) and new things, Thor Vilmjamsson's novel, Justice Undone and Einar Mar Gudmundsson's Angels of the Universe as well as a number of Icelandic poets. He was short-listed for the Aristeon Literary Award in 1999. Born in Canterbury, England, he somehow found his way to Iceland in 1977 and has lived there ever since. [taken from]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post. I loved this book, and was so impressed with the translation. I laughed out loud at the dry humour (all that business with the various embassies), and was awestruck with the subtltety and imagination of the translation. Well done for putting into such apt words.

12:31 PM  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

What a splendidly evocative discussion. I could feel the kipper's tiny bones catching in my throat.

I haven't read this novel yet, but I'm glad you highlighted its wicked humor. Arnaldur is capable of dark and funny passages, but I don't think many reviewers notice that aspect of his writing.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

1:45 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks very much for your comment Maxine I am so pleased we agree about the quality of many books. It proves to me that my critical faculties are still functioning, just.
I think that when you read the Indidrason/Scudder books you are stepping up into a different class of police procedural.

Peter, I was actually at the Fish Shed in Topsham today as a reward after clearing out the garage and taking all the rubbish down to the dump. An excellent chunky fish [white fish and salmon] soup with bread was just the job on a cold autumn day.

It is now getting dark so early and when the clocks fall back this Sunday it will seem a bit like Scandinavia.

11:59 AM  

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