I live here alone in a garage, together with a laptop and an old hand grenade. It s pretty cosy.
And...she's off. Eighty-year-old Herra Björnsson lies alone in her garage waiting to die. One of the most original narrators in literary history, she takes readers with her on a dazzling ride of a novel as she reflects in a voice by turns darkly funny, bawdy, poignant, and always, always smart on the mishaps, tragedies and turns of luck that shaped her life.
Born into a prominent political family, Herra s idyllic childhood in the islands of western Iceland was brought to an abrupt end when her father foolishly cast his lot with a Hitler on the rise. Separated from her mother, and with her father away at war, she finds herself abandoned and alone in war-torn Germany, relying on her wits and occasional good fortune to survive. Now, with death approaching, forced to hack into her sons emails to have any contact with them at all, Herra decides to take control of her destiny and sets a date for her own cremation at a temperature of 1,000 degrees.
In this international bestseller, Hallgrímur Helgason invites readers on a journey that is as hilarious as it is heartbreaking, and which ultimately tells the deeply moving story of a woman swept up by the forces of history.
Breathtaking... Herra s life, and voice, is deeply compelling.(Financial Times)
'What a novel! A gutsy, brilliant book: I could not tear myself away from it.'(Hannah Kent, author of Burial Rites)
The Woman at 1,000 Degrees is incredibly funny, incredibly insightful and incredibly moving.(Fiona Mozley, author of Elmet)
In this black-humoured novel...the narrator recounts her misshapen life with engaging vividness.(The New Yorker)
One of the most original novels of the year.(Irish Independent)
'[Herra] is the most unreliable of unreliable narrators, but her perspective might be just what we need in these uncertain times: She survives and shares her story on her terms. And what a story it is, one worth reading to further understand the complexity of World War II and to enjoy the quick wit of a woman you won t forget.'(Washington Post)
'The Woman at 1,000 Degrees is a bold work of fiction that gnaws at the silence blanketing the blackest holes of humanity to lay bare the author's dark vision of truth.'(Washington Independent Review of Books)
'Icelandic novelist Helgason shares with John Irving a knack for masterful plotting and clever, sarcastic humour...anyone willing to...revel in its flights of language will find much to enjoy.'--(Booklist)
'Helgason s sad and funny novel begins in 2009, as 80-year-old Herra Björnsson lies dying in a Reykavík garage, still in possession of a live hand grenade from World War II...In her unsentimental, unsparing narrative, she offers insights into Icelandic culture and character, including a riff on reticence and a brief summary of Iceland s financial meltdown. Like the Icelandic landscape, she can be both appealing and treacherous.'--(Publishers Weekly, starred review)
'This novel is a shock, a laugh, an evocation of grief, and a tribute to survival and imagination.'--(Affinity Konar, author of Mischling)