Karason, Einar


Karason, Einar
(1955-)
   An Icelandic novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter, Karason first studied literature at the University of Iceland. He had his literary debut with an unremarkable collection of poetry in 1979, and two years later he published his first novel, Petta eru asnar Gudjon (1981; They Are All Fools), which describes a group of young men who try to make it in the commercial fishing industry after spending most of their previous lives in school. Karason next embarked on a trilogy consisting of the volumes Par sem djoflaeyjan ris (1983; tr. Devil's Island, 2000), Gulleyjan (1985; Treasure Island), and Fyrirheitna landid 1989; The Promised Land), in which he tells about life in Reykjavik during the years following World War II. British and American forces left a large number of barracks behind, and people from the countryside migrating to Reykjavik found shelter in this temporary housing. Through a story that involves three generations of one family, Karason vividly depicts the social changes in Iceland during the 1950s.
   During this period Karason also published a volume of short stories, Songur villiandarinnar ogfleiri sogur (1987; The Song of the Wild Duck and Other Stories), in which he depicts strange characters and awkward situations. A second collection of stories about unusual characters is Pættir af einkennilegum monnum: smisogur (1996; Tales of Peculiar People: Short Stories).
   Another family saga consists of the volumes Heimskra manna rad (1992; Worst Laid Plans) and Kvikasilfur (1994; Quicksilver) and depicts the problems that some formerly poor people have when they get rich. Karason's male characters are flawed by their inability to appreciate the beauty of the everyday, and instead go off in pursuit of wealth that they are not prepared to handle. In the novel NorSurljos (1998; Northern Lights), which is set in the 18th century, the protagonist seeks material advancement through lawsuits, as his chieftalent is his ability to say bad things about others. Another historical novel is OvinafagnaSur (2001; Meeting of Foes), which takes place in the late Middle Ages; like the age in which it is set, the novel is extremely violent. Karason has also written plays and screenplays that are based on some of his novels.

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

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