Guðbergur Bergsson: Missir [Loss]


The latest addition to my website Guðbergur Bergsson‘s Missir [Loss]. This is a thoroughly gloomy novel about ageing (Bergsson was seventy-eight when it was published in Iceland), loss of a spouse and waiting for the kettle to boil. The unnamed hero (the book is told in both the first and third person) is an elderly widower, who lives alone, with virtually no contact with anyone, except the occasional neighbour. He spies on the neighbours and watches as the elderly ones die or go into an old people’s home and are replaced by younger people. He reminisces about his late wife, who had serious mental and physical health problems. She smoked heavily and ate a lot of sweets, so she was both obese and coughed a lot, with her snoring keeping him awake at night. He claims to have loved her but is highly critical of her. If their marriage was happy, he barely mentions it. And now he is waiting to die and waiting for the kettle to boil, something he waits for throughout the novel. This is not really an enjoyable novel but certainly shows the miseries of old age, something he describes as this brutality, this violence, in all its horror. It has been translated into French and Spanish but not English.

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