The Pets


by Bragi Ólafsson

November 10, 2015 (pb)
October 15, 2008 (hc, out of print)

novel | pb | 157 pgs
5.5" x 8.5"

"Dark, scary, and unbelievably funny." 
Los Angeles Times

"The best short novel I’ve read this year. . . .Small, dark, and hard to put down, The Pets may be a classic in the literature of small enclosed spaces." 
Barnes & Noble Review


Back in Reykjavik after a vacation in London, Emil Halldorsson is waiting for a call from a beautiful girl, Greta, that he met on the plane ride home, and he’s just put on a pot of coffee when an unexpected visitor knocks on the door. Peeking through a window, Emil spies an erstwhile friend—Havard Knutsson, his one-time roommate and current resident of a Swedish mental institution—on his doorstep, and he panics, taking refuge under his bed and hoping the frightful nuisance will simply go away. 

Havard won’t be so easily put off, however, and he breaks into Emil’s apartment and decides to wait for his return—Emil couldn’t have gone far; the pot of coffee is still warming on the stove. While Emil hides under his bed, increasingly unable to show himself with each passing moment, Havard discovers the booze, and he ends up hosting a bizarre party for Emil's friends, and Greta. 

An alternately dark and hilarious story of cowardice, comeuppance, and assumed identity, the breezy and straightforward style of The Pets belies its narrative depth, and disguises a complexity that grows with every page.

Translated from the Icelandic by Janice Balfour


About the Author: Bragi Ólafsson is the author of several books of poetry and short stories, and four novels, including Time Off, which was nominated for the Icelandic Literature Prize in 1999 (as was The Pets), and Party Games, for which Bragi received the DV Cultural Prize in 2004. The Ambassador, available from Open Letter, was a finalist for the 2008 Nordic Literature Prize and received the Icelandic Bookseller’s Award as best novel of the year. Bragi is one of the founders of the publishing company Smekkleysa (Bad Taste), and has translated Paul Auster’s City of Glass into Icelandic. He is also a former bass player with The Sugarcubes, the internationally successful pop group that featured Björk as the lead vocalist.

“Dark, strange, elusive, compelling, and oddly charming.” 
Kirkus Reviews