History. A Mess.


by Sigrún Pálsdóttir

July 23, 2019
novel | pb | 120 pgs.
5.5" x 8.5"


While studying a seventeenth-century diary, the protagonist of History. A Mess. uncovers information about the first documented professional female artist. This discovery promises to change her academic career, and life in general . . . until she realizes that her "discovery" was the result of two pages stuck together. But she's already reached the point of no return, and she goes to great lengths to hide her mistake—undermining her sanity in the process. A shifty, satirical novel that's subtly funny and colorful, while also raising essential questions about truth, research, and the very nature of belief.

Translated from the Icelandic by Lytton Smith

About the Author:

Sigrún Pálsdóttir's previous titles include the historical biography Thora. A Bishop’s Daughter and Uncertain Seas, a story of a young couple and their three children who were killed aboard a ship torpedoed by a German submarine in 1944. Sigrún’s work has been nominated for the Icelandic Literary Prize, Icelandic Women’s Literature Prize, Hagþenkir Non-fiction Prize, and the DV Culture Prize. Uncertain Seas was chosen as best biography in 2013 by booksellers in Iceland.

About the Translator:

Lytton Smith is a poet, professor, and translator from the Icelandic. His recent translations include works by Kristín Ómarsdóttir, Jón Gnarr, Ófeigur Sigurðsson, Bragi Ólafsson, and Guðbergur Bergsson. His recent poetry collection, The All-Purpose Magical Tent, was published by Nightboat.


Praise for History. A Mess.:

“An amazing story . . . A very memorable reading experience, and in spite of a serious undertone there’s a very finely tuned quiet humour.”
Júlía M. Alexandersdóttir, Morgunbladid

“Absolutely brilliant from beginning to end.”
—Halla Oddný Magnúsdóttir, National TV

“A complex and arresting novel where a super precise style and an ingenious construction come together.”
Nomination Committee for the Women’s Literature Prize

“Like a cubist work of art.”
Jóhanna María Einarsdóttir, DV