The Ambassador


by Bragi Ólafsson

October 12, 2010
novel | pb | 298 pgs
5.5" x 8.5"

"Dark, strange, elusive, compelling, and oddly charming." 
Kirkus Reviews (on Ólafsson's The Pets)

Sturla Jón Jónsson, the fifty-something building superintendent and sometimes poet, has been invited to a poetry festival in Vilnius, Lithuania, appointed, as he sees it, as the official representative of the people of Iceland to the field of poetry. His latest poetry collection, published on the eve of his trip to Vilnius, is about to cause some controversy in his home country—Sturla is publicly accused of having stolen the poems from his long-dead cousin, Jónas.

Then there’s Sturla’s new overcoat, the first expensive item of clothing he has ever purchased, which causes him no end of trouble. And the article he wrote for a literary journal, which points out the stupidity of literary festivals and declares the end of his career as a poet. Sturla has a lot to deal with, and that’s not counting his estranged wife and their five children, nor the increasingly bizarre experiences and characters he’s forced to confront at the festival in Vilnius . . .

Bragi Ólafsson’s The Ambassador is a quirky novel that’s filled with insightful and wry observations about aging, family, love, and the mysteries of the hazelnut. (Read an Excerpt)

Translated from the Icelandic by Lytton Smith


About the Author: Bragi Ólafsson was born in Reykjavik and is the author of several books of poetry, short stories, and four novels, including Party Games, for which he re­­ceived the DV Cultural Prize in 2004. The Ambassador was a finalist for the 2008 Nordic Literature Prize and received the Icelandic Bookseller's Award as best novel of the year. He is also a founder of the publishing company Smekkleysa (Bad Taste), and has translated Paul Auster's City of Glass into Icelandic.

About the Translator: Lytton Smith is the author of The All-Purpose Magical Tent, and has translated works from Bragi Ólafsson, Jón Gnarr, and Kristín Ómarsdóttir, among others.


"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." 
—Paul LaFarge (on Ólafsson's The Pets)