Returning to Two Homes

The Promise of IcelandThe Promise of Iceland by Kári Gíslason

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'I just want to be home', I replied.
'You are home, dear Kári.'

A heartfelt memoir of keeping a secret and breaking a promise, Gíslason laid out snippets of his life in the dramatic landscapes of Iceland, bringing us to the land of the Sagas, to the sky of the Northern Lights, and to the ashes of Eyjafjallajökull. He also brought stories of the hot summer, the long beaches and the cheap wine of the Australian continent.

What I love about this book is how he wrote his big love with the land at the edge of the world. He made me piqued my interest in the paradoxes of the Icelandic culture - like you are being owned but you are on your own, or how the people are reserved and intrusive, and how much they frown while giving you a warm welcome. As a writer and a PhD in Medieval literature, he convinced me to read the dramatic family sagas of the Iceland, naming Egíl's and Njál's as his top favorites.

The unhurried prose made me imagine how his parents fell in love. And this book does not even try to patronize secret lovers or dangerous liaisons, but it is to see the struggles of the result - a lovechild outside of the wedlock. We are given a point of view of Kari's - for us not to be bitchy about adultery, because prejudice does not help in welcoming a child into the world. By acknowledging one's existence also mean's welcoming in one's home.

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2 komento:

  1. Njal's death is funny. I'll copy-paste it here from Jessica's blog:

    In one Comp Lit course we had to read Scandinavian sagas. Along with the Volsunga, we read the Njala, which is also called Burnt Njal. We don’t remember any of it, except that part where the hero Njal is besieged in his house and he valiantly fights off the invaders with bow and arrow. Unfortunately his bowstrings snap, so he turns to his wife and asks her to braid her hair into a bowstring. And she says something like, “Remember two months ago when you hit me?” and refuses to give her hair to his defense. She leaves, and Njal’s enemies surround his house and burn it down with him in it. That’s why it’s called Burnt Njal.

    Mga Tugon
    1. It was mentioned in the book! Nakakatawa nga. But the writer tried to romanticized the saga, focusing on the angle of the Njal and his wife's love story. I am curious of the sagas tuloy. Kung straightforward lang syang basahin or may something more? After all, Icelandic people are very literary. :D