Book Review: ‘Icelander’ by Dustin Long

Icelander cover design by Josh Cochran

Icelander artwork by Josh Cochran

Upon pondering posts for Iceland week, I immediately thought of one of my favorite books, Icelander by Dustin Long. Though it was published by McSweeney’s in 2006, it has remained in my conscious ever since. Not that I’d want to compare Mr. Long’s work to anyone else—because it’s assuredly singular and original—but his lackadaisical murder mystery is like Agatha Christie meets Vladimir Nabokov meets Haruki Murakami with pop culture and magical realism thrown in. There’s so much to love here including the cover design by Josh Cochran.

Though the story of “Our Heroine” trying (and not trying) to solve a crime takes place in Iceland, it’s a fictitious Iceland with made up names and locations. Long seems to capture the essence of the inspiring country nonetheless with mentions of fairy folklore and Norse mythology, but beyond that he makes you feel cold breezes, shady characters in the shadows, and snowflakes on your skin. This isn’t a creepy book, though, it’s a fantastically meandering mystery romp populated by philosophical detectives, a rogue library scientist, and even a well-heeled dachshund. If you’re into a fun read that nods to both Iceland and the utterly absurd, I highly recommend it.

Icelander back cover design by Josh Cochran

March 14, 2013 / By