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21.01

Helga Páley Friðþjófsdóttir Helga Páley Friðþjófsdóttir
Fiction

Cracked Earth

The earth’s crust cracked at the poles. Inside, there was nothing but air and the little sun at the core of the planet. When I was a child, you could just barely make out the edge of the North Hole (a lame pun even then) from the northmost tip of Iceland. The only trace of […]

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Culture

Living Memory

Fifty kilometres [30mi] southwest of Rauðavatn lake, far beyond the din of the city, is a town that is not only a town, but also a memory of one – a memory that its townspeople endeavour to conserve, each in their own way, each according to their own design. Some come looking for context, others for narrative, and a few come looking only for peace.
They find it here, some of them. By the sea. Among the birds. In the quiet.

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Magazine

Parliamentary Elections 2021

The indecision stems, partly, from superabundance. A superabundance of letters and symbols and numbers – and the meagerness of time. For the undecided voter, the question becomes how to process the available information: how to translate the plethora of value statements and policy proposals and opinion pieces, authored by the various members of the various parties, into a coherent and votable whole.

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Interview

What it Takes to Belong

There is no synagogue in Iceland. Jewish individuals who wish to get married in Iceland do so at a nondenominational chapel. Those who pass away are honoured at the nondenominational Fossvogur Cemetery. In 2018, 250 Jews were living in Iceland; by the time this article is published, that number will likely be around 300. Famous […]

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Looking Back

The Foreman

The crimeIn the small hours of a cold and dark night in 1827, Hjörtur Jónsson’s slumber was interrupted by the distant sound of wood cracking. Wielding a long iron bar, someone was violently prying open the wealthy farmer’s front door; hinges creaked, groaned, and then gave way with a faint bang. Now fully awake, his heart […]

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Interview

Who Are We?

The Icelandic nation’s identity is built on being a Nordic nation, descendants of Vikings. A nation that for centuries was isolated from other countries. Their homogeneity has been used for political purposes since the fight for independence, to explain Iceland’s uniqueness and justify its right to sovereignty. For some, this homo­geneity is even something to be protected, and the common knowledge of the nation’s origin is the foundation for that belief. But history is never as simple as “common knowledge” suggests.

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Interview

Reykjavík Through Its Daughters’ Eyes

A person never travels but halfway. Each time a person visits a foreign country, she is herself that part of the country that exerts the greatest influence over it: Each street, building, and passerby is coloured by a person’s experience, know­ledge, and prejudice – is permeated by her own self. This is why Reykjavík through the Daughters’ eyes is different from Reykjavík through the eyes of others; through their eyes, there is plenty to see.

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Culture

Are You Listening?

It’s been more than 40 years since the Bugles sang about the death of the radio star at the hands of video. At the time, people believed that the golden age of radio was ending, and that television would overtake it. Yet radio hung on, not least with the help of music programming. Then the internet came along and changed how we consume music, and people were sure that it was the final nail in radio’s coffin. For decades, we’ve been saying it’s only a matter of time before the last radio listener starts pushing up daisies. To this day, rumours of the radio’s death have proven greatly exagger­ated. Radio isn’t dead, even though there’s a new kid on the block: the podcast. Though it isn’t a new form of media threatening to take over, it is radio in new clothes. Yet the question remains – when one tap of a touchscreen gives us access to all the news, music, and TV we could ever need, why would we still listen to the radio?

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Culture

The Summerhouse

In all Swedish real estate listings, there’s a special note about the property’s dis­tance to water. As if people can only endure a brief amount of time on land before re-immersing themselves. I can picture them, sun-browned and sockless in their shoes, pink sweater arms dangling off the shoulders of slick-haired Swedes, striped skirts whipping […]

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Magazine

No Country for Old Mosquitoes

The Faroe Islands. The Orkney Islands. Jan Mayen. Iceland. These are some of the few places in the world where you won’t find mosquitoes. You sometimes hear that Iceland is the only country in the world utterly devoid of mosquitoes. That’s technically correct as the Faroe Islands are part of the Kingdom of Denmark. Icelanders often savour victories based on technicalities the most. But the mosquito-free paradise could be coming to an end. Surprisingly, the bug fauna in Iceland is more abundant and more diverse than people believe.

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