Nominated by:

Borgarbókasafn Reykjavíkur, Iceland

Stavanger Bibliotek, Norway

Publisher of nominated edition:

AmazonCrossing, USA

Reply to a Letter from Helga

Bergsveinn Birgisson      

Translated from the Icelandic by Philip Roughton

2015 Longlist

Bjarni has long held on to a letter from former lover Helga, with whom he shared an illicit, impassioned love. Her letter invited him to leave his wife and his farm and pursue prosperity in the city, where World War 2 had brought an influx of American marines and opportunities for work. But he chose not to reply. Years later, as he reflects on a long and simple life among the sheep in the Icelandic hillsides, he finally finds himself ready to explain why.

(from publisher)

About the Author

Bergsveinn Birgisson holds a doctorate in Norse philology and has an expansive background in folklore, oral histories, and lyrical poetry. A true academic at heart, Birgisson has spent his life studying language and how it represents the truth of the human condition. He currently resides in Bergen, Norway, where he continues to write classical tales of love and masters new languages. Reply to a Letter from Helga is Birgisson’s third novel, and his first to be translated into English.

About the Translator

Philip Roughton is an award-winning translator of modern Icelandic literature and a scholar of Old Norse and medieval literature. He holds a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Iceland. His translations include novels by the Nobel Prize-winning author Halldór Laxness, among others. He currently resides in Reykjavík, Iceland.

Librarians’ Comments

An old farmer writes a letter to his former mistress, recounting their time together “in season”, before she moved to the city. Idyllic in almost every sense, corporeal, sincere and somewhat deluded; this novel has been very popular among readers of the library and was considered one of the most exciting books of 2010.

The best love story ever told in the epic language of a sheep farmer from Iceland. A book you will never forget!

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