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Butterflies in November

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All you’ve got to do is give him something to drink every now and then, hand him a banana every hundred kilometers or so, and stick a straw into his chocolate milk.

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Image from Flickr via Amanda LaFay

I spot him immediately. He stands out in the crowd, with his unusually big head for such a short trunk, slightly drooping shoulder blades, and a rather old-fashioned hearing aid for such a young child. His big ears protrude through his hair. His mother had told me he wants to keep his hair long, to cover those ears. Having been premature by two and a half months, he is considerably smaller than his peers. His torso also seems oddly proportioned, an old man locked in the body of a child.

“I normally buy clothes for him that are twice or three times below the size of his age, mostly French children’s sizes,” Auður told me.

What’s more, the boy wears glasses that are attached by springs to the hearing aid behind his ears and his eyes seem to almost completely fill the lenses. He has a look that often attracts attention, frequently evoking pity, Auður said, particularly from old women, who sometimes pull sweets out of their pockets.

He instantly recognizes me and seems visibly happy to see me. Wrapping his arms around my waist for a brief moment, he looks up at me intently as he speaks and then patiently waits for me to give him some sign of understanding and recognition. Because I don’t know sign language, he strives to speak as clearly as possible, exaggerating his lip movements and equally stressing every syllable as he forms the sounds that he himself can only barely hear. Nevertheless, his voice sounds strange and I have problems grasping what he is saying. I squat so that we can at least look each other in the eye when he’s talking.

“We had a special mushroom day today,” the kindergarten teacher interprets, although I’m convinced he was trying to say something else to me. “Few of the kids wanted to eat the mushrooms we were offering, one of them retched and threw up on the table. This week we’re focusing on the sense of taste,” she continues to explain, “in connection with the globalization theme and in collaboration with the Intercultural Centre.

Questions requiring immediate answers spring to mind. Are two mushrooms enough for the dinner of a four-year-old? Should I put him into his overalls or will he be offended?

“We offer a mixture of national and international foods, now that all the borders are opening up to investment. We had a buffet with all kinds of delicacies on toothpicks for these little fingers: black olives, fermented whale, mozzarella, feta cheese, French goat’s cheese, blood pudding, dried fish, and mushrooms.”

The boy dutifully hands over several drawings of mushrooms, sketched both from the side and above, as if to illustrate the woman’s speech. In addition to this, he is holding in a plastic bag two mushrooms, which have been dissected in half so that their interiors can be examined.

Questions requiring immediate answers spring to mind. Are two mushrooms enough for the dinner of a four-year-old? Should I put him into his overalls or will he be offended? Does he want to do it himself? Is what he wants also what is best for him? Do the two go hand in hand? If not, how am I to distinguish between the two?

Auður has phoned the school in advance and the woman decides to spell it out for me:

“The guiding principle we work under here is that each individual is unique and different,” says the kindergarten teacher. “We believe in the strength of those who are weak and have had to overcome obstacles and are therefore, in a certain way, stronger than the others. If one sense is defective, another sense will often compensate by becoming super-sensitive, like the hearing of the blind, for example, or the sight of the deaf.”

I resist the temptation to mention Tumi’s glasses and hearing aid in the same breath.

“If a person is different, that can also make them a little bit special,” interjects some proper little madam who is slipping into some woollen socks.

“Exactly, Geirthrúdur,” says the kindergarten teacher emphatically, “that’s what we’re focusing on in our group work.”

“I’ve got freckles and my grandad has cancer,” the little girl continues.

“Exactly, that’s the idea.”

The child is then given a sign to let her know that her contribution to the conversation must now end and the woman turns back to me.

“We have a child here with a Senegalese father; obviously Tumi, who has serious hearing difficulties; hyperactive and development-impaired children; children way over the ideal weight; children with same-sex parents…”

I finally pluck up the courage to dress Tumi in his blue winter overalls and to put on the balaclava he hands me, at least I can do that much. Temperatures have risen by eight degrees since yesterday.

“If the weather forecast is anything to go by, it’ll be puddle gear after the weekend,” says the woman, “we love our puddles, don’t we, Tumi?” Then she turns back to me again and says in a warm confidential tone:

“Some hate fighting, others love splashing. To be honest, we’re concerned about how little communication he has with the other children. Above all, he prefers to be left alone or to play with the girls in the doll corner. We’re trying to build up his self-esteem, but he categorically refuses to fight, there’s no hunting instinct in him, no conquering. He always stands at the back of the group, avoiding conflict. If he were a sea lion he’d be the first one to be slaughtered by the males and he’d never get to reproduce. Aggression needs a healthy outlet if it is to be channeled into creativity and we’ve tried different methods to toughen him up. Even though we don’t allow weapons, we turn a blind eye to the kids who use sticks as guns. Tumi, on the other hand, engages the sticks in a sign-language conversation, one as granny and the other as grandad.”

“Bang, I’m dead,” the teacher exclaims to the boy as she falls to the ground, or rather feigns to, crouching down on her knees but then deciding to go no further. Then she swiftly springs to her feet again, dusting her knees, and smiles warmly:

“The kids like playing cops and robbers.”

The boy slips behind me.

“Not Elísabeta and me.”

“Not you and Elísabeta,” she interprets for me, “isn’t that right?” She looks me straight in the eye as she speaks to the boy. “But Illuga Már, he likes being shot, doesn’t he? He likes playing dead, isn’t that right?”

*                      *                     *

Tumi sits still in the back seat with a box of chocolate raisins, watching his mother knock back the wine. The accordion she requested lies on the seat beside him.

“I want to ask you a big favor.”

I already know what it is. I have experience in these matters, like that time she went off on a five-week music course to Amsterdam. She’s about to ask me to pay the bills that lie on the shelf in her hall, to fetch all kinds of creams and things from her apartment, to water her plants, the yucca in the corner by the TV, two full cups, and to then let it dry completely for a whole week before watering it again. The plants on the living-room windowsill are another story, she’ll tell me, they have to be watered daily, half a cup each, mustn’t be too moist or too dry, otherwise the one in the middle won’t produce its purple flowers in February. Last but not least, she will ask me to bring over her Discman and CDs, and not to forget Clara Haskil, who has the same interpretive sensitivity she has, although she doesn’t actually say that.

“I wanted to ask you to watch Tumi for me while I’m in the hospital.”

This catches me totally unprepared and I can think of nothing better to do than turn into Bergthórugata.

“But that’s another three months.”

“Maybe and maybe not. I’ve got a hunch it won’t be that long, two and a half months at the most. He’ll be in the kindergarten while you’re at work.”

“I can’t handle children, you know me, I haven’t a clue about kids.”

“You were a child once. Isn’t your ex always saying you’re still a wretched child?”

I clutch at every thought that springs to mind and spurt it all out. He could die in my arms, I even end up saying. Auður glances at the windows of the fashion boutiques as we crawl down Laugavegur.

“Being a mother is about waking up and doing one’s best and then going to bed again and hoping for the best. I heard that in an American movie once.”

“I just don’t have that maternal gene, I’ve never considered having kids. I don’t even look like a mother.”

“The only thing mothers have in common with each other is the fact that they slept with a man while they were ovulating without the appropriate protection. They don’t even have to repeat the deed. Not with the same man at any rate.”

“I’d neglect him, he wouldn’t get enough to eat, enough sleep, I’m in the middle of a divorce right now and moving.”

“Being a mother is about waking up and doing one’s best and then going to bed again and hoping for the best. I heard that in an American movie once.”

“But what about his dad?”

“Last I heard he’d moved to Hveragerði.”

“Besides, I’m about to go off on a trip—on a long holiday—and I’ll be away for at least six weeks, maybe even for Christmas. I’m going to try to find a spot for the chalet in the East. In fact, they’re about to load it onto the truck as we speak—all disassembled,” I say to add weight and credibility to my information. I’m trying to think as fast as I can, although it sounds false to tell her I need to be on my own, that I’m preparing this voyage into the unknown precisely to find myself again.

“You can just take him with you, he’s the easiest kid in the world, he doesn’t need any entertaining. He just sits in the back seat, you’ll barely notice him, he won’t nag or pester you, doesn’t even sing the way other kids do, all you’ve got to do is give him something to drink every now and then, hand him a banana every hundred kilometers or so, and stick a straw into his chocolate milk.”

“I don’t know sign language.”

“He hears a bit, lip-reads, and gesticulates when he speaks to people who don’t understand sign language. He’s a linguistic genius, just like you, four years old and he speaks three languages. You’ll just have to learn his language, add another one to your collection. Seriously, you could understand a camel.”

I don’t bother telling her I sometimes have enough problems trying to express myself to people with perfectly good hearing and speech. Maybe it’ll be no worse with a hearing-impaired child with a speech impediment.

“Hasn’t the time come for the linguistic expert to examine the appearance and shape of words? To see what concepts look like in three dimensions and learn how to make words with your body, without your voice?

“You don’t even have to cook, just buy something ready-made and split it in two. He has no idea of when regular mealtimes are, has nothing to say about their preparation, and eats what he’s given, pretty much like a monkey at the zoo.”

By this stage of the conversation, my friend has moved closer to me and is almost sitting on the handbrake with her arm around my shoulders.

“But what about you? Don’t you think you’d miss him?” I ask.

“I have enough on my plate, I wouldn’t be able to take good care of him, it’ll be another two and a half months before the twins are born and I’m supposed to lie still until then. Otherwise, there’s the danger of Tumi’s history repeating itself—respirators, oxygen tents, kidney problems, and all that. He didn’t cry until he was six weeks old, and even then it was more like the meowing of a kitten.”

“But what about him? Can he be without you for that long?”

“The only thing I’m allowed to do in the ward is watch American soaps and wildlife documentaries until I’m driven mad. And kill everyone around me because I get so depressed when I can’t play. I’ve nothing to give the child.”

By now she has drunk over half the bottle.

“It’ll do you good to have some company. Mark my words, he’ll change you.”

“In what way then?”

She chooses to ignore the question.

“Besides, he likes your smell.”

“Huh?”

“He’s told me he wants to be like you when he grows up; he’s very fond of you.”

Guilt isn’t an easy thing to swallow, which is why we cease to think rationally and start to see only one side of the issue: Auður is a close friend of mine who has chosen an unconventional lifestyle, a single mom with two more fatherless children on the way, highly educated, a music teacher with a fondness for wine, who slipped on the unsalted steps of my house one lunchtime with a vegetarian Indian takeout with rice for two in her bag. She broke her ankle, six months pregnant.

Females can tend to each other’s offspring, just like those ducks do at the lake.

She was the one who had come over to comfort me. I could, of course, turn this on its head, the same way Auður did, and say that it was a stroke of luck that she fell on my steps and got a thorough medical examination. “If one looks at the big picture,” as the article I’m currently proofreading keeps on repeating (and I don’t know whether I should edit it or not), “If one looks at the big picture,” all of these factors will help to ensure that my friend has children just like any others, and not children for whose survival she will have to struggle and who will then have to prove that they were worth struggling for, even though they might just be the way they are. It therefore falls directly on me, the friend she was coming to comfort when she slipped on my steps, to take care of the boy who loves my smell. Females can tend to each other’s offspring, just like those ducks do at the lake.

I glance over my shoulder; he seems apprehensive. All he can see are the backs of our heads and he doesn’t realize we are deciding his fate. I probably have no other choice but to take the child with me on the trip.

“You’re my best friend, the best person I’ve ever met.”

“Do you really think you should drink any more?”

“I won’t get many other chances over the next months, it’s good for the blood.”

I give it one more shot: “I won’t even be able to sleep with anyone.”

“Join the club. It’s no big deal in my experience. You don’t have to have him in bed with you. Besides, I thought you were divorcing and going off on a trip to have a change, to be alone, into the Christmas darkness of the East, however refreshing that may be.”

I make no comment, but that is precisely what’s on my mind. Who knows if there’s a man waiting for me on Iceland’s Ring Road? Who knows if he won’t suddenly appear, somewhere within my grasp, by a waterfall or a mound of fallen rocks on the side of a mountain that plunges straight into the sea, or perhaps I’ll find him leaning nonchalantly on the fragment of an iceberg in the middle of the black sand, a man one could talk to. He would suddenly appear, freshly divorced, a responsible father of two who wants no more children, dressed in full hunting gear with a rifle slung over his shoulder. But instead of blasting the meat with lead, over his hunting companions’ heads, or shooting himself in the foot, he would look straight at the goose and shoot it right between the eyes. A good part of the excitement would lie in tracking such a man down.

*                      *                     *

Without having any precise idea of exactly where I’m going, I start heading east, moving toward an increasingly lower sun and shorter days, and soon find myself driving onto the National Highway No.1—the Ring Road—into the darkness and rain. I don’t even have to choose a direction because on this island there is only one you can choose: the circular road that follows the coastline. In any case, I’m not the type of person who would venture off the highway down some unpaved back road. One encounters few crossroads on the Ring Road, and even fewer stop signs.

“Yes, of course we’re taking the fish with us.”

You can’t break a promise you’ve made to a child.

We place the three goldfish in the biggest jar that can be found with a lid. The orange creatures jigger nervously with every movement, darting furiously from one wall of the jar to the other, in the little space they have to move in. The sand, pebbles, and two shells, which the boy had fetched from his private collection at home and which were supposed to give the jar more of a homely feel, only help to agitate the water even further.

We helped each other lower the jar into the trunk between the two casks of crowberry schnapps and four plants, which we were going to drop off at Mom’s on our way out of town. She had given the plants as gifts to her son-in-law on various occasions, so it seems only natural that she should take care of them now. Everything that dies in my hands always seems to thrive in Mom’s. Although I’m not a bad person, as such, I’m totally inept at looking after things or cultivating them. I simply can’t find the instinct to help things grow. I either water them too late or too much and always when they are on the brink of collapse, whereas in her house everything seems to flourish all around her.

“Plants thrive best in a thought-free vacuum,” she says, as if she were quoting some popular Eastern philosophy.

Since her trip to China last year she has started to study Chinese, her first foreign language after Danish.

“As soon as I saw how many of them there were,” she says, “I realized I had no choice. For the future.”

I’ve been watering plants that aren’t even plants and shouldn’t be watered.

She’s one big smile, sixty-eight years old and still has all her teeth. With the vestiges of a streak of lipstick across her rosy brown lips, she bursts with vitality and embraces her only daughter and the boy.

“You could have left those behind,” she says as we’re carrying in the plants, the boy holding the smallest one. “This one’s plastic and that’s a silk flower and that one’s made of tissue.”

That explains why they’ve started to go moldy. I’ve been watering plants that aren’t even plants and shouldn’t be watered. No wonder everything felt so phoney around us, that our relationship was withering: love can’t thrive on artificial flowers. I should have caught on; lily-reddish pink and always in bloom, that’s no life.

“I’d long stopped giving you living plants, sure you would have just killed them all.”

My mother likes to save interesting newspaper clippings for my benefit, because she believes I never give myself the time to read the news; I’m always too busy doing other things. The dining table is covered in clippings that have been sorted according to subject matter: harmful poisonous food additives, the right way to handle raw chicken and avoid salmonella, education, childcare and bullying, the protection of children, animals and nature, reflections on various types of religion, all in double spreads, and—last but not least—articles about international aid work.

“Yet another war to guarantee peace,” she says, “except that now they’ve started to calculate the estimated number of wounded and maimed with bar charts and tables divided by age group in advance to enable the pharmaceutical companies to make their projections.”

I remember how, when my brother and I were small, my mother used to plant potatoes and sow carrots in the spring, as soon as the earth began to thaw, and how she disinfected our palms and put bandages on them after she had removed the red playground gravel, but I don’t remember her ever expressing any opinions on global issues the way she does today. My mother is a woman with a mission in life. She has found a new passion in the autumn of her years, volunteer aid work around the globe; a widow dedicated to the alleviation of suffering. She is a sponsor of Doctors Without Borders, a member of water supply associations in Africa, a fundraiser for a hospital in Sri Lanka, and she is totally immersed in land mine issues and artificial limbs. Her main interest, though, is the education of young girls in the Third World.

“Because woman is the future of man,” she likes to say.

She now has seven adoptive daughters in four continents, and has pictures of them and thank-you letters on every shelf and windowsill. But she also has one boy. His fly is undone in the photo and two teeth are missing from his upper gum. He is leaning against a tree in the barren garden of some nursery with a beaming smile and oversized jeans that droop over his dark-brown bare toes, despite the double turn-ups.

“I’d asked for a girl but they sent me a boy, you can’t very well return a child.”

*                      *                     *

My happiness could almost be complete. I don’t even have to see all that clearly, I just switch on the windscreen wipers, turn on the heating full blast, and, bit by bit, the mist vanishes from the windows. There’s a great freedom in not knowing exactly where you are heading, to surrendering to the security of the Ring Road, where one point leads to another, and you always effortlessly end up back at square one again, almost without realizing it.

Since we’re traveling companions, the boy sits in the front seat beside me, barely reaching the dashboard, looking manly with an open packet of raisins on his lap. His seat belt is a bit high, even though I’ve slipped a cushion under him. At the Raudavatn Lake I’m stopped by the police, who check my lights and seat belts and give me some advice.

“There aren’t many people out traveling today,” says the uniformed officer in the lashing rain.

The boy willingly climbs into the back seat while I burrow through the bundles of thousand-krónur notes in the glove compartment to find my driving license. For a moment, I wonder if I should behave as if I were in a B movie and slip the officer a folded wad of cash and then, without a word, drive off into the withered fields ahead of us, vanishing into the mist and darkness, which is eating its way into the day with each kilometer.

Now that the passenger seat to my right has been freed, I use the opportunity to unfold a road map of the island.

“Dog,” says the boy quite distinctly, pointing at the map.

It’s true, the compressed island looks like a poor vagrant wet puppy dragging its paws. I’m heading toward the tummy, that’s the point where my journey begins—our journey—and where the fields end.

“We’re on our way now.”

That’s what Dad used to say every time we drove east at the beginning of the summer and had been driving for a while, at least an hour from home and way out of town. I’m inclined to think it was once he’d passed the lupin fields. Then he and Mom would exchange a brief glance and smile, and he would gently pat her hand with a contented air.

At this time of the year, normal people have other things to do than renew their bond with the darkness of the land.

As soon as it starts to rain, the outline of the world begins to blur and the horizon is supplanted by vague landmarks. Everything more or less turns to wasteland as soon as you travel beyond the road grid of the city, vast expanses of black sand and black lava fields, with the black ocean not far beyond and the black sky above. At times like this it’s good to have objectives. At the moment, mine consist in keeping my foot pressed moderately hard on the pedal, sticking to the right-hand side of the road, and not straying beyond the striped lines dividing my lane to the right and left. No need to make any decisions about what comes next, I just have to stick to the legal speed limit and move into the future that advances toward us as naturally as the next petrol station, as naturally as finding one’s future husband leaning nonchalantly against the railings of a bridge—these things happen. It is no small feat for a woman to stick to the right-hand side of the road; that’s where reason reigns, not the heart.

For the moment, my focus is fixed on the reflecting posts on the side of the road and the glow of the red rear lights of the old jeep towing a horse trailer in front of me, without, however, driving too close, in case some splashes of mud mar my vision. We seem to be the only two vehicles on National Highway One and that creates a kind of solidarity between us. If, for example, we were to continue heading further east and fire were to finally break through the surface of the glacier, and the sandy plains were to be flooded with water, would I and the boy and the man in the jeep, whom I don’t know from Adam, end up sharing the half-packet of oat biscuits I brought along on the same floating iceberg? Other people don’t take their summer holidays in November. At this time of the year, normal people have other things to do than renew their bond with the darkness of the land. I switch on the radio, it’s the last song before the weather forecast: If there is a road, there is a way.

The boy is totally silent in the back seat and refuses to take his hood off, despite the heat in the car. But I can see through the mirror that he is, nevertheless, alert and staring out at the road into the darkness. I mustn’t forget that mute children don’t attract attention to themselves the same way other kids do and require another kind of care.

The jeep unexpectedly skids to a halt in front of me and the trailer swerves on the drenched pavement, leaving me no choice but to do the same, to avoid a collision, so I too pull up on the side of the road and kill the engine.

The man leaps out of his jeep. After watching him check something under his car and give his horse trailer a kick, I’m not surprised to see him knocking on my streaming window. It’s only once his face is right up against the glass and I can see the water trickling down his neckline from his hair that I realize it’s the guy from the pet shop, the man in the fish section, who gave me the handwritten note in cursive blue letters.

“No, there’s nothing wrong,” I tell him, “I didn’t mean to be following you, I just like to know there’s a car in front of me, I’m following the rear red lights.”

I tell him that, even though I know from experience that I’ll soon be able to see the lights of the greenhouses in the village on the other side of the mountain, I find it reassuring when someone else is on the road, with a comfortable gap between us, provided he has no objections.

“I don’t mean to pry or anything,” I repeat.

I feel an urge to speak to him further, to ask him something important, but the best I can come up with is to ask him for the time: What time is it? Absurd as it may seem, I suddenly feel in this precise spot, with no visible landmarks in sight, that I needed to know the time. In the rush of the moment I forget that I have a dual-time watch on the wrist of the hand holding the steering wheel. The watch I was given for my divorce is blatantly visible to the man looking through the window. He turns back to his jeep without deigning to answer me, slams his door closed, and drives off. The time is most definitely a quarter past five.

*                      *                     *

Visibility is practically zero and it is precisely here, at the peak of the mountain road, that my traveling companion decides he needs to pee.

He is unwilling to step out into the rain and wind, but doesn’t want to wait either. Judging by the map spread out over my lap, there are another twenty-five kilometers of lava fields and sand before we hit the next petrol station, where there will be a toilet. After that we can buy some hot dogs that have been simmering in the boiler since last weekend.

There’s no point in me raising my voice, he can’t hear me, so every time we need to talk I turn on the indicator and pull onto the side of the road, stop the car, and turn in my seat to allow him to see the words my lips are forming, my mouth opening and closing. I think about whether I should try to convey the information in units of distance or time.

“Hold it in, it’s another twenty-five kilometers to the next petrol station, or a fifteen-minute drive in these poor conditions.”

But when you’re sitting beside your loved one in the car, twenty kilometers are like the flutter of a butterfly’s wings on the wall, the buzz of a fly, a fraction of a moment, no time at all.

But what if he asks me how long twenty-five kilometers is? Or how long it takes fifteen minutes to pass? Twenty-five kilometers is a long distance to travel with a carsick child, longer than if I were driving a weary old lady to have a hip operation who would be grateful for the fact that she didn’t have to walk to the regional hospital over swampy fields and barbed-wire fences in a skirt and, instead, be able to sit perfectly upright in the passenger seat beside the driver, her bony knuckles wrapped around the handle of a handbag containing the bare essentials: her blood pressure medication, a box of red Opal pastilles, and lipstick.

A post-coital silence can seem interminable if the woman no longer loves the man and the man no longer the woman. Time can pass just as slowly if you’re traveling with a carsick child. Silences also seem endless when you’re fourteen years old in a mixed class of thirty and you’ve been instructed to observe three minutes of silence in commiseration for some horrific event that has occurred on the other side of the ocean—that’s an unbearably long time.

But when you’re sitting beside your loved one in the car, twenty kilometers are like the flutter of a butterfly’s wings on the wall, the buzz of a fly, a fraction of a moment, no time at all.

*                      *                     *

Here I am, wandering through the rain and darkness with an unrelated child, three pets in a jar, a small pile of documents barely worth mentioning, and last but not least, a glove compartment crammed with cash, perfect. I’ve deliberately left my mobile behind; my sole link to my immediate environment at this moment in time is the weather woman on the car radio, who is saying that the eye of a depression is now pressing all its weight on the center of another depression.

Who I am is intrinsically linked to where I am and whom I’m with. Right now all my efforts are centered on making the most out of the fading light, while my traveling companion sleeps in his balaclava, tilted against the window in the back. The only decision that needs to be made now is whether we stop or not and, if so, where. The highway seems almost uninhabited; where are the natives of this island? Apart from the boy and the hunters, the only company we encounter on our way is the shopkeepers inside the petrol stations that punctuate our journey, the woman reading the weather forecast on the radio, and, at this very moment, the velvet voice of the host of an afternoon culture show, whose words seem to be streaming into an echo chamber without punctuation.

A giant Pepsi sign shines through the darkness.

G

Butterflies in November ©2004 by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir; English translation copyright ©2013 by Brian FitzGibbon; used with the permission of the publisher, Black Cat, an imprint of Grove Atlantic, Inc.

Author Image

Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir was born in Iceland in 1958, studied art history in Paris, and has lectured in the history of art. Her novel The Greenhouse won the DV Culture Award for literature, was nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Award, and was translated into twenty-two languages. She currently lives and works in Reykjavik as the director of the University of Iceland’s Art Collection. Butterflies in November is her second novel to be translated into English.

Author Image

Brian FitzGibbon has translated a vast array of film scripts, treatments, stage plays, and novels into English from Italian, French, and Icelandic, including the Icelandic cult novel 101 Reykjavik by Hallgrímur Helgason and The Greenhouse by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir.

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