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3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  98 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Sturla Jón Jónsson skáld fer á ljóðahátíð í Litháen. Þar þarf hinn menningarlegi sendiherra lands síns að bregðast við ýmsum uppákomum, óvæntum áföllum, glímir við óljóðrænan veruleikann en ekki síst þarf hann að berjast við glæpamanninn sem býr í okkur öllum. Hárfínn húmor helst hér í hendur við tragísk örlög í frábærri sögu einstaks höfundar.
Hardcover, 390 pages
Published 2006 by Mál og menning
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First, I want to say thank you to the guy who knows Karen that I have never met who gave her this book. I think his name is Chad. Thank you Chad.

One of the really great things about Karen and greg is that when people give them free books they go out of the way to get these people nice reviews of these books. Back in the day when Zweig was floating around, Greg gave it to me after he was done with it because he was hoping that I might like it a bit more and have something nice to say about it, I
Gunnar Hjalmarsson
Ljóðskáld í ruglinu í Litháen. Sniðugt og gaman. Nú redda ég mér hinum bókunum hans á bókasafninu með snatri.
Translated from the Icelandic by Lytton Smith

It’s tough being a poet. First, there’s the whole stereotype of the cerebral, tortured artist who offers the world little but obscure verses. Then your Dad starts doing the passive-aggressive thing and slights your work whenever he can. Your son calls your career a ‘hobbyhorse’. You get no respect.

This is the world for Sturla Jon, a sucessful poet from Iceland. He’s tough, sarcastic, and is finding it hard to even respect himself anymore. He still wri
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Full text of Second Pass review:

After a recent reading in a small, internationally stocked New York bookstore, Icelandic author Bragi Ólafsson prepared to answer questions from the audience about his newly translated novel, The Ambassador. But rather than asking about the novel, or a previous novel (The Pets, published in the U.S. in 2008), or his prose style and writing inspiration, or even his former gig as the bassist in The Sugarcubes (a band
Christopher Litsinger
I probably shouldn't have read this right after reading the abortion, but doing so did make me realize the similarity between Ólafsson's style and Richard Braughtigan.
That aside, the book didn't connect with me much. Largely a criticism of the arts community (and specifically the poetry community), it's often hard to tell where the ironic detachment lets up - maybe it never does. If you're looking to read an Icelandic book, this probably isn't the place to start, although it did seem to win an a
Sturla Jón, the anti-hero protagonist, is a man who has gone through a lot in his life. His parents are long separated, his mother an alcoholic, he divorced in a distant past and his five children are estranged from him. I cannot say for sure whether one should pity him for the unfortunate events that have befallen him, or that he is simply as an island onto himself. Perhaps that makes him the perfect ambassador for Iceland? (Not really. His conduct and character are hardly appropriate for a rep ...more
I wanted to like this one as I don't read many books from Icelandic writers, but this was just dull. Not much happens really and whilst I'm not one of those needy readers who needs a lot of whiz bang in my plot, I don't, I do need a little more going on than is given with The Ambassador. Huge sections of this, nothing happens! Maybe that's the intention of Olafsson? Bombard us with the mundane, little moments of this 51 year old guy who buys a new overcoat, talks to his father, has conversations ...more
Blaine Harper
I'll be honest: I skimmed the last third. But I don't think I should have had to read more than half the book to get to a plot point described on the back cover, especially since there aren't any other tensions to maintain the reader's interest in the book. By the time I got to the accusation (like I said, it's on the cover), I could see that there wouldn't be much more return on my investment of time. The translation reads nicely, though, and seems to indicate solid literary development on the ...more
This reminded me a bit of The Elegance of the Hedgehog in that I hated the character and wasn't sure if the author expected me to like them. In this case, I decided by the end that the author intended for the character to be a loser, so I gave it 3 stars.
Lisa Hayden Espenschade
Oct 14, 2010 Lisa Hayden Espenschade rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in literary influence
Recommended to Lisa by: review copy of book from publisher
A funny-but-sad look at the life of an Icelandic poet who is ostensibly representing his country at a Lithuanian poetry conference. The Ambassador has many threads to pick: I enjoyed following the influence of Gogol's "Overcoat."

The Ambassador is on my blog here.
Chad Post
DISCLAIMER: I am the publisher of the book and thus spent approximately two years reading and editing and working on it. So take my review with a grain of salt, or the understanding that I am deeply invested in this text and know it quite well. Also, I would really appreciate it if you would purchase this book, since it would benefit Open Letter directly.
I'm interested in Icelandic literature, I love literary festivals, and I'm not someone who requires explosions and sex (or even much of a plot) in the books I read, but this story was so achingly dull I couldn't make it past the first 100 pages. I'd definitely try and read another book from Iceland, but not from this author.
Most people who don't like this book have complained that it has no plot. True enough. If you're willing to forgive the author this eccentricity, though, you might find yourself enjoying his strange (yet familiar) characters and wonderful sense of the absurd.
Really funny understated humor at the expense of writers and poets. It was interesting to see an Icelandic perspective on the rest of the Baltic.
It is an odd book. Think of this as an indie movie. If you are looking for some sweeping conflict. This is not the book for you.
The ending is a bit of a let down, but this novel is oddly endearing. And hard to put down.
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Bragi studied Spanish at the University of Iceland and the University of Granada. He has had a number of different jobs in Reykjavík, at the post office, in a bank and in a record store. He was also a member of the Sugarcubes, and toured with them in Europe and America.
Bragi's first published work, the poetry collection Dragsúgur (Draught), appeared in 1986. Since then, he has published other book
More about Bragi Ólafsson...
The Pets Samkvæmisleikir Hvíldardagar Handritið að kvikmynd Arnar Featherby og Jóns Magnússonar um uppnámið á veitingahúsinu eftir Jenný Alexson Fjarveran

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