Miss Iceland: A Novel
In 1960s Iceland, poets are revered. They squeeze into cafes and are treated as celebrities–and they are almost exclusively men. Women are not meant to be writers, and those who do insist on writing are excluded from the cafes and other elements of the writing community. For Hekla, moving to Reykjavik is how she attempts to find a place for herself as a woman writer. Yet she meets obstacles right and left. Her roommate Jon, a gay man struggling to define the shape of his own life, ultimately moves away to work on a fishing boat. Her old friend Isey is swiftly building an absolutely conventional life with her husband and children, though she can’t ignore her own creative urges. And Hekla’s boyfriend, an ambitious writer named Starkadur, had no idea she’s a writer–and reacts outrageously when he finds out.
As Hekla endures her coworkers’ insistence that she enter the Miss Iceland competition, she tries to stay focused on her writing, shutting out the noise of a society not ready for a woman like her. She may not be welcome among the male poets in the cafes, but Hekla trusts she has something worthwhile to say. Her workaround to the era’s sexism may be frustrating, but her determination and commitment are to be admired.
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