Updated: Apr 17, 2022
Kristín Marja Baldursdóttir, IR#I141956 is one of Iceland’s most acclaimed and popular writers. Her works highlight the mostly neglected part of Icelandic history: the lives of its women, and the disparity between their aspirations and their predestined roles. The author of several international bestsellers is now published in English. It is currently available on Amazon as an ebook and will be released March 1st in paperback.
KARITAS UNTITLED (Amazon Crossing) is masterfully translated by award-winning translator Philip Roughton.
Originally published in Iceland as Karitas án titils in 2004, this historical novel about a young woman growing up in early 20th century rural Iceland has powerful feminist undertones. Using her own passion for art as an outlet, Baldursdóttir explores equal rights for Icelandic women through her painter artist character, Karitas. Her story struck a chord with readers, reaching national recognition and earning Baldursdóttir a nomination for the Nordic Council Literary prize in 2005.
Growing up on a farm in early twentieth-century rural Iceland, Karitas Ólafsdóttir knows what is expected of her—help her family, then marry and have her own children. Her mother, recently widowed with six children to care for, moves them north in search of a better life and education for her sons. Karitas is drawn to art and is determined never to compromise her artistic endeavors. But she is powerless against society’s norms and is pulled back time and again by design and by chance to the Icelandic countryside―as a dutiful daughter, loving mother, and fisherman’s wife.
When Kristín Baldursdóttir first started writing the novel in the 1990s, equal rights wasn't a main topic of interest for women in Iceland. But KARITAS UNTITLED continues to resonate with readers internationally for its complex and immersive portrait of a woman struggling to reconcile love, responsibility, and family with her desire to live life on her own terms.
Literature is a powerful tool to help us understand the culture and society of another country, and this exquisite novel is a must for any reader who wants to get to know Iceland and Icelandic culture.
Many thanks to Kristín for sending a copy of her book to the Icelandic Roots Library.