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A Fist or a Heart

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3.65  ·  Rating details ·  388 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Elín býr til leikmuni og gervi fyrir kvikmyndir og leikhús og þó hún sé komin yfir sjötugt lifir hún enn fyrir vinnuna. Hún býr ein og veit ekki af fortíðinni sem leynist í kössum úti í bæ. Dag einn birtast þeir á stofugólfinu hennar.

Þegar Elín fer að vinna við sýningu á nýju leikriti eftir unga vonarstjörnu, Ellen Álfsdóttur, vitjar fortíðin hennar á ný. Leiði
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Published September 24th 2019 by Brilliance Audio (first published 2017)
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
I recently read The Glass Woman, which was set in Iceland, and lamented wanting to read more books set in Iceland. Imagine my surprise when I picked up A Fist or a Heart, now an award-winning novel set in Iceland.

Elin Jonsdottir, in her early seventies, is living a lonely life in Reykjavik. She makes props for crime movies. Elin’s interest is piqued by Ellen Alfsdottir, also a bit of a loner, as well as playwright and daughter of a writer. These two have a connection, but only one re
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Ken Fredette
Aug 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book that I read by Kristín Eiríksdóttir and I was surprised how much I could relate to what she talked about as Elín or as Ellen in her thoughts of different characters that she developed in her story. These thoughts have also come to me with taking care of my 104 year old father-in-law. Her fears with Ellen with people in general I can see in other people and wonder if they see their world in a different light than I do. I've had several strokes and have these funny feeling w ...more
Joseph
This novel is an insightful psychological study of two lonely and eccentric individuals with a tenuous grip on their sanity. The protagonist and narrator Elín Jónsdóttir, is a theatre and movie prop creator in her late sixties. One of the latest projects in which Elín is involved is the production of a new play by a teenage writing prodigy - Ellen Álfsdóttir. Ellen happens to be the daughter of a famed playwright with whom Elín was acquainted. Elín, who has spent all her life pushing people away ...more
CRz lowkey.bookish
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc

Thank you Amazon Crossing #partner for my gifted copy of A Fist or a Heart.

“Because all things come with the story, and sometimes, stories are changed by a thing.” What are stories but our memory of how something happened. But, what happens when our memory fails us? There is a deep sense of sadness in this story, as it should be when someone begins to lose their memory.

This book is perplexing at times, but is really magical in its own way. It is like an art film and is n
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Kathy
Oct 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hit some key that took away my review. Maybe that was a sign? I was being rather critical, not in a nice way.

This is a book to decipher, not read.

I brought it home from the library, but I see that it is available through Kindle Unlimited as well if you are up for experimental writing.
Elin is introducing us to the "story" of Ellen. Elin is mature and is a prop maker for the play that is being produced, written by the young woman Ellen. Both women are loners/outside
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Evy
Jul 13, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you NetGalley and Amazon Crossing for a copy of this book.

When you see a book, there must be some spark that takes you in and makes you want to read it. The fact that the author is Icelandic and that the cover is so beautiful were definitely the two sparks for 'A Fist or a Heart'.

When you start reading, the characters intrigue. You get thrown some pieces of history from the author and that works both confusing and stimulating, as you really want to learn more. The p
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Pétur Marteinn Urbancic Tómasson
Mjög góð. Fannst Hvítfeld betri en hlakka til að lesa næstu bók.
Karl Hallbjörnsson
Fannst sem forsendur og aðstæður sögunnar væru dálítið klisjukenndar þegar ég byrjaði, þessi klassíski íslenski mega-harmleikur — öllum líður hreinlega ömurlega, etc. — en er leið á söguna fannst mér höfundur fara vel með viðfangsefnið og meðhöndla það á listilegan hátt. Endirinn var drungalegur. Prósinn var góður. Mín helsta gagnrýni er því sú að verkið hefði mátt vera lengra. Mér fannst ég ekki kynnast persónunum nægilega vel. En það er höfundi til láðs fremur en lastar.
Thorunn
Apr 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Ég var nú alveg í þann veginn að fara að gefa 2 stjörnur. Eina sem gerir það að verkum að ég gef 3 er að það vöknuðu svo margar spurningar um hvað höfundurinn er eiginlega að pæla - sem er alltaf gaman. En mér finnst þetta almennt séð alvegt ferlegt rugl og bókin eiginlega jafn leiðinleg og ég ímynda mér að leikritið sem Ellen skrifaði hafi verið.
Valgerdur Benediktsdottir
Las „Elínu, ýmislegt“ aftur í morgun. Þetta er í fjórða sinn sem ég les bókina. Eða fimmta. Og alltaf hefur hún jafnsterk áhrif á mig. Alltaf sit ég í lokin grátbólgin. Alltaf dansa setningarnar áfram í höfðinu á mér, og maður hugsar um látlausasta og algengasta mannshvarfið, sem á sér stað innra með manni sjálfum, um áföll sem eru álög og svo margt fleira. Þetta er feikilega góð bók.
Karan
Oct 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This kept my attention. No neat synthesis in the end. Chalking much of what confused and/or unsettled me to Icelandic way of life. Though I could also say, it's realistic in the way she's conveyed (some) relationships.
Worth it.
Alan Teder
Elín, Miscellaneous
Review of the Audible Audio English translation edition (2019) of the Icelandic original "Elín, ýmislegt" (Elín, miscellaneous) (2017)

This was quite a mysterious story with an older theatre/film props maker named Elín who becomes somewhat obsessed with a younger playwright named Ellen who she once met earlier in life (the specific incident is not revealed until towards the end). During this time she is also re-examining her own life after being prompted by receiving several file boxes of her/>Review
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Leslie Wise
May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A heartbreaking story, the careful and penetrating writing provided me with profound insight into the characters that made for a rich and meaningful literary experience. Through the poignant prose in this narrative, I encountered a glimpse of the universality of human pain, and there were moments of hope and coping revealed that I wholeheartedly longed for the characters (and also the world in real life) to hold onto tightly.
Joy Clark
I wouldn't say that I enjoyed this book, per se, in fact I spent the first 60% of the book searching for the plot. I didn't really ever find one, by the way. What I did find was beautiful writing and excellent but subtle explorations of loneliness and pain, which led to the 3-star rating.
Ása
Gagnrýnendur hafa lofað þessa bók í hástert og ekki af ástæðulausu. Hún er skemmtilega öðruvísi og vel skrifuð. Ég hlakka til að lesa fleiri bækur eftir Kristínu í framtíðinni.
Nina
Sep 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always have difficulty writing a review for books that are so beautifully written, but hard to follow. That's how I felt about this one. It is apparent that the author has a way with her words. It is evocative, compelling, and poetic at times. There were moments in the book that reminded me of Ocean Vuong's, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous.

In saying this, there were times that I couldn't follow the plot in this story, and it left many unanswered questions. I wonder if the intention
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Alan Teder
Elín, again
Review of the Amazon Crossing paperback (2019) English translation of the Icelandic original Elín, ýmislegt (Elín, miscellaneous) (2017)

This was a full reading of the print edition, which I had previously only occasionally referred to during a listening of the Audible Audio edition last month. I had the same favourable impression, finding it just as intriguing. It was definitely easier to follow on a re-read having the previous familiarity and not being distracted or confused by the audio similarity of t/>Review
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Leif
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A twister thriller posing as a minature mirrored funhouse, this book, and a quite contemporary character study that knows when to linger, when to reflect, and when to move on to give the plot another contemplative turn. For me, Eiríksdóttir is a writer to watch, and I'll be finding her next book with alacrity!
Skuli Saeland
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: icelandic, fiction
Kraftmikil og óvenjuleg saga tveggja kvenna. Elín er fullorðinn leikmyndasmiður sem tekur að sér að vinna við uppsetningu leikrits eftir unga upprennandi skáldkonu því hún kynntist henni við óvenjulegar aðstæður mörgum árum áður. Harmrænn og eftirminnilegur frásagnarmáti og mig hlakkar til að lesa fleiri sögur eftir Kristínu.
Sigríður
Apr 04, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Mjög undarleg og samhengislaus, skil ekki að hún hafi fengið verðlaun. Fullt af boltum hent upp en enginn tenging.
Janet
I received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.

The past returns with a fury for a woman coming to terms with her life in this award-winning novel by an acclaimed Icelandic author making her English-language debut.

Elín Jónsdóttir lives an isolated existence in Reykjavík, Iceland, making
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Sherry Chiger
I read the English-language translation, "A Fist or a Heart," and my feelings about it are all over the place. The writing is wonderful—succinct yet evocative. But the plot, such as it is, is both more obvious and more opaque than it needs to be. Having the protagonists' names be almost identical (Elín and Ellen) is a blatant way to signal the parallels between them (then again, the Icelandic title does translate to something like "Elín in Multiple"), and by the end I wondered what was the point ...more
Megan
Oct 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. For me personally, I was hooked by the ties to the theater and stage work, as that is as world in which I am deeply entrenched. Because of that connection, I think I probably got something more out of this book at the beginning than someone without those ties. However, that was not what kept me intrigued. I found the characters of Ellen and Elín to be fascinating. I devoured the parts of the story where they were both present, trying to piece together how they were tied to e ...more
Megan
Oct 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. For me personally, I was hooked by the ties to the theater and stage work, as that is as world in which I am deeply entrenched. Because of that connection, I think I probably got something more out of this book at the beginning than someone without those ties. However, that was not what kept me intrigued. I found the characters of Ellen and Élin to be fascinating. I devoured the parts of the story where they were both present, trying to piece together how they were tied to e ...more
Becki
While I’m still not sure if I understood the plot of this book, I definitely was engaged with the characters’ feelings. The author’s use of language was incredible. I could feel the despair, the confusion, and the detachment of the characters. There were descriptions of a few events in their lives that led to them feeling the way they did, but the actions weren’t really the story – the resulting feelings and behaviors going forward were.

Overall, this book made me feel things. I may have felt a
...more
Ingibjörg Rúnarsdóttir
Minnti mikið á söguna Stúlkan í skóginum eftir Vigdísi Grímsdóttur enda talsverð líkindi bæði í efnistökum og formi. Form beggja bóka er einhvers konar töfraraunsæi og þemað er einsemd. Ég hafði stöðug hugrenningartengsl við Stúlkuna í skóginum við lesturinn. Mér þótti á sínum tíma erfitt, í raun leiðinlegt, að lesa Stúlkuna í skóginum en aftur á móti hefur hún setið mjög fast í mér alveg síðan þá. Enda var hún þrælgóð þrátt fyrir að hafa ekki verið beint skemmtileg.
Að sama skapi þótti mér
...more
Lisa Carter
Sep 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was profoundly moved by the stories of both female protagonists in this novel. Their stories also challenged me, hitting more than one nerve.

The writing itself was a star, the combination of prose and poetry and drama is gorgeous and seamless.

Perhaps most telling of all, when I finished reading this book, I immediately wanted to go back and read it again for the depth I sensed but couldn't take in all at once. (I never read a book twice!)

To me, this book fel
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HollyLovesBooks
This is an intriguing book from an Icelandic author that is full of atmosphere and a sense of the isolation of the country in parts. Overall, I have been interested in the culture of Iceland after having an Icelandic student as part of our local community and staying in contact with her. I find the culture quite unique, compared to traditional western cultures, even the naming of children. This book was a tough read, due mostly to the difficulty in following narrators and finding the plot. Some ...more
Susanne
Aug 19, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, 2019
Thank you to AmazonCrossing and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I did not enjoy this book. Having spent lots of time trying to work out what the plot is, putting it down in frustration and coming back to it - I finally just gave up and read through to be done with it. Although parts of it were beautifully written, they were also parts that were difficult to read because they described painful feelings and destructive behaviors.

All in all, I found it very incons
...more
Sue
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
This was an interesting book. The protagonist was an older woman (Elin) who makes props for plays. Her latest job is for a play written by the daughter of a playwright with whom she had worked for years ago. Elin is slowly losing her grip on reality and the young playwright Ellen is dealing with her own life.
It was an interesting read.


I won this book, but would have read it even if I hadn’t.
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English Translati...: Kristín Eiriksdóttir - A Fist or a Heart 1 8 Jun 18, 2019 02:06PM  

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KRISTIN EIRIKSDOTTIR (b.1981) made her mark on the literary scene in a big way with her collection of short stories, Doris Dies in 2010.
Critics agreed that a new, fully-fledged author had arrived with one of the most significant works of fiction of the year.
Her voice is strong and importunate – one of the most original of her generation.