Doug Johnstone of the Times interviews Arnaldur Indridason as Arctic Chill hits the stores and as the Icelandic film version of Jar City is released in the UK. Interestingly, Arndaldur says there was no crime fiction tradition in Iceland until his massively popular series was published, and that the genre was considered trashy. And yet he feels his writing is part of Iceland’s most celebrated literary tradition.
The Erlendur novels are certainly cinematic, but there is also a sparseness and a deadly dry sense of humour that make them distinctly Icelandic, both traits found in the most famous Icelandic literature of all. “I am heavily influenced by the Icelandic sagas,” he admits. “The sagas are huge stories of families and events, murder and mayhem, and they were written on rare cowskin so they had to be very concise. They don’t use two words when one will do, and I take my cue from that.”