Iceland

Around the middle of this month (June 2017) EPI and I embarked on our annual book drop tour. This is where we drive the Ring Road around the country, visit booksellers, and introduce any new books we have. Originally we had books in the car and dropped them off (hence our little moniker) but since we now publish ten titles it's become a little difficult to fit them all in the car. So these days we just take the newest books and send the rest by mail. Anyway. I documented our tour on Instagram, and many people wanted to know where those places were that we visited. I promised I would write a post when I got back with the details...

I expect that, by now, many of you have heard about the scandal rocking Icelandic politics, that of our Prime Minister’s wife, Anna Sigurlaug Pálsdóttir, having an offshore company registered in Tortola - a notorious tax haven. Something that the PM, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, conveniently neglected to mention to us, the serfs of this land, despite having had to declare any conflict of interest he might have when he took office. Allegedly said company and its accompanying bank account were created as a depository for Anna Sigurlaug’s family inheritance at the behest of an advisor at Landsbanki bank. Her father sold the Icelandic Toyota dealership a few years ago and made a sh*tload of dosh off the sale, part of which he...

Yesterday I was off on one of my book drop (distribution) runs around town, and along the way decided to stop off at a particular store to check out a piece of furniture we've been thinking of purchasing. I had a couple of questions about it, so approached a sales lady who was working nearby. We had a brief discussion, and then she said to me in a lowered voice: "Just wanted to let you know, though, if you're thinking of buying this today, you should wait until tomorrow." I looked at her, puzzled. "Because of that Black Friday thing." "Ah," I said.   Now, I knew what she meant, because I'm a citizen of the Internet. I have seen the adverts, and (more pointedly) the insane videos of people trampling...

You've seen the Internet memes, and possibly also Paul Krugman's enthusiastic columns proclaiming Iceland the poster child of economic recovery. Having in 2008 suffered the biggest banking collapse in history relative to its economic size, Iceland has now bounced back in spectacular fashion, with steady economic growth, virtually no unemployment, and only nominal inflation. On top of all that, the tourist industry is booming, and the building cranes are back. Time to party like it's 2007! ...

I'm sure you have heard the stories: Icelanders believe in elves, won't build anything without first checking whether there are elves living on the site, go around knocking on boulders to say hello to the elves, make whole entire maps of elf colonies, and blah-de-blah. The international media loves to chew on this stuff, and the Icelandic tourist industry loves to feed it to them. Well, I'm here to tell you: it's a crock of poo. "But!" I hear you say breathlessly. "There was this study that showed that Icelanders most definitely do believe in elves. I read about it in Vanity Fair [or insert name of other sophisticated media outlet here]." Sure, ok. I will grant that there was a study. And allegedly, in...

I wrote this post for the Reykjavík Grapevine last Monday, after the Icesave verdict had been passed down but it didn't make it into print.  An almost palpable ripple of relief passed through Icelandic society at precisely 10.30 am on Monday, January 28, when the EFTA court passed a judgment stating that Iceland had been within its rights to refuse claims by the UK and Holland over the failed Icesave online bank. This put to rest one of the nastiest disputes in Icelandic history – one that had Iceland pitched against some of its closest foreign allies, and which polarized the nation into two camps incessantly hurling verbal assaults at each other. For those who don’t know what Icesave is ...