Fríða Á. Sigurðardóttir: Medan nóttin lídur (Night Watch)


The latest addition to my website is Fríða Á. Sigurðardóttir‘s Medan nóttin lídur (Night Watch). There seem to be several Icelandic writers with the patronymic Sigurðardóttir and Fríða will be the first of three that I shall be reviewing over the next few days. This is a really excellent novel, which tells of the three night vigil of Nina, who is watching her mother die. While she is watching, she thinks of her own life and her relationships with her family and lovers but, more particularly, she thinks of her forebears, primarily the female ones. They generally had a hard life on a remote farm in Iceland (as did Sigurðardóttir herself) and struggled to survive and make something of themselves, while she has become a modern woman, that is one who does not show her feelings too much and who has a relatively easy life, in her case running her own advertising and design agency. Her thoughts jump between the more remote past of her forebears, her own past and her current life, as she endeavours to come to terms with the past of her family (to the disgust of her sister, Martha) and to find out who she is. Sigurðardóttir writes superbly and tells her stories very well, even though Nina’s mother and sister feel old tales…should be left to rest in peace; nobody’s business. This book is out of print in English translation and only seems to be available from the usual online sites for figures well in excess of $300 in the US and £300 in the UK. Why? Would someone pay that money for it? I just do not understand the online book business.


Hallgrímur Helgason: 101 Reykjavík (101 Reykjavik)


Ragna Sigurðardóttir: Hið fullkomna landslag (The Perfect Landscape)


  1. Where did you get all these books from? They don’t seem that available…

    • tmn

      Night Watch I bought in 2002 (no, I don’t remember but I do keep a record of all books I purchase) but I have no idea where or for how much but certainly not for $300/£300. Others come from a lifetime of over-exuberant book-buying.

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