For the past year or so, every time I open my Facebook home page, I’m barraged with another set of glorious vacation pictures from Iceland. I’m pretty sure fifty percent of the people I know have been to Iceland now—even Miriam went there. I’m jealous. It looks gorgeous, but mostly I’m fascinated with the way a tiny country has become popular in so many ways. And now, thanks to the amazing performance of their soccer team in the 2016 UEFA European Championship, there’s an even bigger acceleration of interest. And according to this article, their book trade has seen a boost from it.
It stands to reason that people would want to get to know the people of this amazing country that has become so popular, and what better way than through literature?
After taking a course in grad school covering translated literature, I’ve made it a point to read more translated works. I learned through the class how little I know about other cultures, and that the bulk of the books I was reading focused on American culture. Books are supposed to broaden your horizon, and yet, I was being fed the same stories over and over again, learning very little in comparison to when I read about different cultures. I found that through these completely foreign books, I could travel to another country from the comfort of my own home (and without the ridiculous flight costs). I developed a broader love for foreign rituals and traditions, discovered wars and conflicts I never knew existed, experienced new landscapes following characters that know them best, and most importantly, I became a better writer. Maybe even a better person.
So knowing that more Icelandic books will be translated thrills me. Reading an Icelandic book will take me one step closer to my dream vacation! Or at the very least, I may finally understand why Iceland is so cherished.