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Gnarr: How I Became the Mayor of a Large City in Iceland and Changed the World

3.41  ·  Rating Details  ·  425 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
It all started when Jón Gnarr founded the Best Party in 2009 to satirize his country’s political system. The financial collapse in Iceland had, after all, precipitated the world-wide meltdown, and fomented widespread protest over the country’s leadership.

Entering the race for mayor of Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital, Gnarr promised to get the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park into
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published June 9th 2014 by Melville House (first published January 1st 2014)
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Community Reviews

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In 2009, Icelandic comedian Jón Gnarr created a fake politician (“an odd mixture of Groucho Marx, Tony Blair, and an American used car salesman”) for a TV sketch show. In the wake of the financial crisis that effectively bankrupted the entire country, however, he decided the character would be in rather poor taste. But rather than shelving him entirely he chose, instead, to make him real — and run for Mayor of Reykjavík through the newly created “Best Party”, to which he recruited a wide selecti ...more
Jan 17, 2016 Stacia rated it liked it
A quick, easy, fun, & inspiring read. Exactly what I needed right now.
Bob Schnell
Jul 11, 2014 Bob Schnell rated it really liked it
Shelves: gonzo, read-in-2014
Remember when Iceland went bankrupt and then turned itself around by throwing out the corrupt politicians and jailing the criminal bankers? Jon Gnarr was at the forefront of that bloodless revolution and this book is his story of how that happened. It should be required reading for the 99% of Americans who got screwed by the economic crisis of 2008 and is still trying to recover.

Gnarr was a semi-employed comedian/taxi driver when the crisis hit. In writing some reactionary comic sketches he and
Jesús Santana
Sep 28, 2015 Jesús Santana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Este es el libro del humorista, punk, anarquista y político islandés Jón Gnarr Kristinsson a quien desconocía totalmente y del cual he quedado enganchado desde la primera página, su estilo de hacer política y su tan particular personalidad que para muchos puede parecer una verdadera locura y una falta de respeto dentro de esa palabra ya tan devaluada que conocemos como política lo ha llevado a escribir este trabajo donde cuenta sus vivencias en ese mundo tan devaluado y que pareciera que ya no t ...more
Always Pink
Feb 21, 2015 Always Pink rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arctic-pleasures
I love him to bits! The world needs many more Jón Gnarrs, that's for sure. I hope the English translation of this little book does him justice; I read it in German and the translator did a good job. So he comes across as very funny (of course he is, he's a comedian!), deeply humane, decent and unpretentious. It would be a pity if the anarchic bits opening an closing the book would put any less comedy-inclined readers off. His ideas and thoughts in the rest of the book, which he combines with a s ...more
Nov 13, 2014 Katherine rated it it was ok
I was very disappointed in this book. I mean, what a great story. A comedian runs a joke campaign for mayor and ends up getting elected. I thought it would be funny - it wasn't. I thought I would learn about all the things his administration did for the city - I didn't. It turns out the book was about as well planned as his campaign. I sense he really struggled to fill the scant 133 pages, and barely managed it by throwing in letters he had written and a lengthy, but hardly illuminating, intervi ...more
Sep 11, 2015 Peter rated it liked it
This short memoir was interesting, not for the writing so much as who wrote it. Jón Gnarr, the now-former mayor of Reykjavík, Iceland, is something of a character. After the financial crisis that bankrupted Iceland around 2009, many Icelanders had had it with their elected officials, whom they viewed as being complicit in the total collapse of Iceland's nearly unfettered financial sector. Comedian and entertainer Jón Gnarr emerged as satirical political candidate (like Stephen Colbert's presiden ...more
Ondřej Puczok
Rozhodně jde o zajímavou knihu, kde jsem rád, že jsem ji získal a přečetl. O Nejlepší straně a Jónu Gnarrovi jsem slyšel hodně a doplnění informací z jeho pohledu je vítané. Bohužel Jón Gnarr je možná dobrý komediantem (nemohu posoudit, nikdy jsem ho neviděl) a byl dobrým starostou (v knížce se to nedozvíme, ale dle různých ohlasů tomu tak skutečně bylo), ale vypravěčem je děsivým. Nedrží se tématu, odbíhá, nevysvětluje, mate - to vše dohromady s cílem Nejlepší strany co nejvíce přehánět, blbnou ...more
Douglas Lord
Sep 05, 2014 Douglas Lord rated it liked it
This is a spirited, breezy romp through the life of Gnarr who, as the title implies, invented a new left-of-center party for Reykjavik. This “Best Party” won a plurality of seats (six out of 15) in 2010, and what began as a satirical lark—with leanings toward anarchy—turned real. A professional comedian and performer, the author basically led the charge to bring to task those who caused Iceland’s 2008–11 economic meltdown, getting votes from of a lot of riled up people and those who wanted a cha ...more
Jul 30, 2014 Joshua rated it liked it
Interesting enough. I would have preferred a bit more substance of what the Best Party wanted to do and accomplished.
Aug 27, 2015 Sally rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aacpl-books
This is the first-person account of how Jón Gnarr, stand-up comedian, crossdresser, and high-school dropout, started a political party as a joke and ended up mayor of the capital city of Iceland.

This is a very dangerous book. It has almost convinced me that participatory democracy can be functional under late-stage capitalism, at least on a small local scale.

Who wants to help me start an American Best Party? We can call it the American Best Coalition, or ABCs for short.
Ricardo Ribeiro
Mar 07, 2015 Ricardo Ribeiro rated it did not like it
Horrible. I am not even commenting what's behind the book - all the rhetoric, the bullshit, the irresponsibility which seems now to be a pattern in Icelandic politicians (including those who deny it, like the author). If I just consider the book by itself, in abstract, it's also horrible. Poorly written (yes I know, Jón, you think a mechanic can proceed with a brain surgery, so why wouldn't you write a book...), hollow, empty. A collection of assorted texts, mostly interesting for Icelandics (wh ...more
Jun 07, 2015 Clain rated it liked it
I'm in a bit of a quandary. On the one hand, I really like Jón Gnarr, the way he sees the world and other people, and I really like what he achieved with his 'fake' political party. But on the other hand, the way he tells his story is a bit of a let-down.

I first heard about him (and his book) in early 2014 when he was a guest on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. When he said he was a comedian who invented a crazy politician persona for an act, and then went one bit further and created an a
Sep 15, 2014 Chris rated it really liked it
This is a simple, short book about a revolution in politics that is truly inspiring. Perhaps it's naive to think changes to the political system such as the ones chronicled here could happen in a place bigger than Iceland or without the economic cataclysm Iceland experienced, but Gnarr responded to events out of civic responsibility. And he responded in the way he knew how, even if it might not be in the traditional way. For me, that's the inspiration; that, if there is an injustice, impropriety ...more
Dalila TM
Nov 24, 2015 Dalila TM rated it liked it
-There are three points of view here you can give about this book: About how it is written, about Jon as a person and about the Best Party/its politics
-I'm not Icelandic and I didn't live the experience of having him as Mayor of my city but I think he's quite honest on this book. I like how honest, plain and simple he is on the book. No masks. He tells about his life and his experience without too much sophistication.
-I liked reading this book. It is made of short episodes, fruitful experience
Jun 25, 2014 Peter rated it liked it
An interesting read but I kind of wanted a little more meat on it. Maybe there isn't that much meat to the Best Party-- which is kind of the point-- but I'd like to know a little bit more about the man and what motivates him. Still a worthwhile read.
Jun 14, 2015 Gina rated it really liked it
I saw Jon Gnarr on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and he was such an interesting character that I asked for his book for Christmas. I wasn't disappointed. I found this book to be very charming and encouraging. Boiled down to its fundamental core, it's all about taking politics into our own hands. Don't like the direction your city is taking? Get into local government. He also has a good heart and a very live-and-let-live approach to life which is refreshing. Mechanically speaking, the l ...more
Nov 17, 2014 Kamil rated it it was ok
Despite being quite short, I stopped reading about half way through when it became clear that the book didn't offer much to take away. I enjoyed the occasional glimpses into Icelandic life, but the story of the Best Party was far from interesting. This was either due to Gnarr's erratic retelling of the events or perhaps because there wasn't much to tell in the first place.
Jul 15, 2015 Michele rated it it was ok
The story of Gnarr is so much better than the book's execution.
Julie Garrett
Nov 13, 2015 Julie Garrett rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I bought this after visiting Iceland and hearing about the author and how he started a political party almost as a joke (one of the campaign's promises is a promise to break all the other campaign promises), but then wound up becoming mayor of Reykjavik. The book is kind of all over the place: part memoir, part political philosophy, part observations on the politics of Iceland.

The book is a pretty quick read and quite entertaining in spots. (Gnarr was an actor and comedian before entering politi
Jo Coleman
Mar 30, 2015 Jo Coleman rated it it was ok
This started out an interesting story about growing up in Iceland, being disenfranchised with politics and then accidentally becoming mayor of Reykjavík. But as soon as that happened, it got a bit dull! Needs more jokes.
Jul 08, 2015 Retrovold rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies
I had the chance to meet Gnarr on signing of his book in Prague, which was very entertaining. You can see in this man that he was indeed a comic. His approach to politics remains I honesty thing dear to his heart. Which is something his former party has proven in their work and as new party continues do so in Iceland.

This book may not interest you from point of politics as it is but it's worth the read especially because of what Gnarr and his party did. They took something and as he himself des
Sara Jane
Feb 08, 2015 Sara Jane rated it really liked it
I love this man's story. I love the idea of the long-shot political outsider getting into government and effecting real change--I wish it would happen here, except that I absolutely do not desire the total economic collapse that made Gnarr's rise possible. This story is told with a true sense of humor, and I truly wish that we here in polished, PC America could take a lesson from it in our own political dialogue. As a bonus, this book taught me a lot about Icelandic life and culture, and I can't ...more
Jul 01, 2014 Marc rated it liked it
I had the opportunity to see him speak in Baltimore recently and was rather impressed with his accomplishment, he started a political party as a joke and then got his friends on board and won the mayors race. However, this book could have used a little more, it was a short read and seemed to gloss over details, which might be good for his target audience but I was hoping for more. All in all though the message of citizens getting involved with their government to make change is an important mes ...more
Faryn Fireball
Jan 19, 2016 Faryn Fireball rated it liked it
this book had me reconsidering how i consider a book good or not. is it content? is it how it serves the intended audience? is it concept? is it the precise language used to convey ideas?

by which i mean this: Jon Gnarr is brilliant in some ways. he saw a broken and corrupt system and tried something that nobody did before. to discuss the turnaround and glowing success of Reykjavik and Iceland in the past decade and to leave out Gnarr's name is foolish. he spawned 'The Best Party' through his not
Cenhner Scott
Nov 29, 2015 Cenhner Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: islandia
¿Se acuerdan del "que se vayan todos"?
¿Se acuerdan de que después de eso nuestro presidente fue un tipo llevaba 18 años como gobernador de San Luis? ¿Y que después nos pusieron al que llevaba ocho años gobernador de Buenos Aires? ¿Y que después ganó de nuevo Menem? ¿Y que, como se bajó del balotaje, quedó como presidente un tipo que llevaba doce años como gobernador de Santa Cruz?
¿Quiénes se fueron? ¿Por qué no se fue ninguno? ¿Por qué nos olvidamos que habíamos pedido que se fueran todos?

Matt Capizzi
Oct 06, 2014 Matt Capizzi rated it really liked it
A book about an Icelandic counter-culture Comedian creating a joke political organization and creating one of the most amazing Left Liberal Democracies in one of the most inclusive and positive cultures in the world.

He's a Punk, Comedian, and an Anarchist elected as the mayor to the most important cities in the entire world. read this book if you like peace, politics, Iceland, or gender equality. Don't read it if you hate positive people with the disgusting political agenda of fun.
mary evenson
Jan 05, 2015 mary evenson rated it liked it
This is a difficult book to rate.
He started the Best Party and was elected mayor if Reykjavik Iceland after the economy there tanked.
He was a comedian, actor, radio broadcaster prior. He is a pacifist and thinks Iceland should leave NATO and that any military flights should be banned from their airports
Much of what he was able to do was because everyone almost knows everyone in Iceland
He is a strong family man with great ethics but quirky
An interesting quick read
Dec 16, 2014 pozharvgolovu rated it it was amazing
It was a beautiful book. Translation I guess is good because it was done in plain English, & as the author says, his main ability is to entertain and not to write complicated stuff. Overall he gives a good insight of what meant becoming a Major without the corruption of all politicians and without all the ideological brainwash, usual as well in all politicians.
I just wish my country would be as small as Iceland, so all politicians and corrupted bankers would go away and all problems would be
Nov 10, 2014 Jen rated it liked it
I saw Jon Gnarr interviewed on Craig Ferguson a few months ago and found his story fascinating. I finally got my hands on a copy of his book about forming his own political party, The Best Party in Reykjavik. Some chapters of this book were more interesting than others and occasionally it felt a little overly self praising, but overall I found the book interesting and informative and definitely know a lot more about Gnarr, Reykjavik and politics than I did before reading. At the end of the day - ...more
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Jón Gnarr Kristinsson is an Icelandic actor, comedian, and politician who became the Mayor of Iceland's capital city Reykjavík on 15 June 2010, and stepped down on 16 June 2014. Born Jón Gunnar Kristinsson, Jón legally changed his middle name in 2005 to the way his mother pronounced it when he was a boy. He is married to Jóhanna Jóhannsdóttir with whom he has five children. His daughter, Margret, ...more
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“I wish you could simply extirpate violence and war from the world, abolish all the armed forces, and destroy all the bombs. But this is probably not very realistic. Ultimately, everyone has to start with themselves. Many want to be active somewhere else, at best in a country where they don't currently live. But what's the point, if there's no peace in your own life? So be at peace with yourself. And how? Through peaceful dealings with others. Start by ensuring peace at home before you go out into the world. Or work for peace in both spheres. You can't be working for a peace camp in the Middle East during the day and then in the evening have a quarrel with your family over the phone.” 3 likes
“Those who want peace must open their mouths wider than others. Peace is a basic human right, and as long as wars are still being waged around the world, we cannot in good conscience count ourselves to be worthy members of the highly civilized species Homo sapiens. We should set ourselves the goal of establishing specific peace zones, and expanding and extending them over the whole world.” 2 likes
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