Translated Fiction Blog Tour for Karitas Untitled by Kristín Marja Baldursdóttir @fmcmassosciates @amazonpub

I am over the moon to be able to launch the book tour for one of two newly translated releases by Amazon Crossing.

Today’s book is Karitas Untitled, by Kristín Marja Baldursdóttir.

Growing up on a farm in early twentieth-century rural Iceland, Karitas
Ólafsdóttir, one of six siblings, yearns for a new life. As an artist, Karitas
has a powerful calling and is determined to never let go of her true
unconventional self. But she is powerless against the fateful turns of real
life and all its expectations of women. Pulled back time and again by
design and by chance to the Icelandic countryside―as dutiful daughter,
loving mother, and fisherman’s wife―she struggles to thrive, to be what
she was meant to be.
Spanning decades and set against a breathtaking historical canvas,
Karitas Untitled, an award-winning classic of Icelandic literature, is a
complex and immersive portrait of an artist’s conflict with love, family,
nature, and a country unaccustomed to an untraditional woman―but
most of all, with herself and the creative instincts she has no choice but
to follow.

I am able to share a sneak peek chapter of the book for you to peruse at your leisure.

Untitled 1915
Pencil drawing
The morning is misty gray.
The colors of the sea, the mountain, and the valley have dulled, as if the thin strip of fog painted over a picture in haste before fleeing the bitter cold that crept into the bay in the small hours.
Over the heath, still white with snow despite it being Whitsuntide, goes a cart, pulled by sturdy workhorses. Men from the valley escort the widow to her ship.
She rides straight-backed, with Halldóra next to her, shoulders slumped. The two elder brothers follow the cart, listening to its every creak.
Among the trunks, knitting machine, and sacks huddle we two younger sisters, bundled in wool. Our youngest brother rests in the arms of Bjarghildur, who hums to him, while I sit scrunched between two trunks, watching the shoreline recede.
A horse-drawn cart on a white heath.
Anxiety at the trip over the heath has kept me from sleeping for many nights. I know that an evil spirit dwells here, luring travelers and dragging them to a deep bowl hidden among the steep, landslide-ridden slopes. I look bitterly at my siblings, who have never sensed the presence of trolls and monsters as I have, let alone perceived ghosts, and I regret not having stayed behind like the maid.
Over the white heath hangs a fog that is waiting to swallow us.
All around me in the cold stillness, I hear whispering.

The hold’s hatches and the opening to the staircase had both been shut after the sea worsened, and the sour smell of vomit hung over the prostrate passengers. The families had prepared makeshift beds on the floor, while two women not in the death grip of seasickness propped themselves on their elbows and entertained each other with birthing stories. Steinunn was speaking.
“Karitas came from the sea, but Bjarghildur from the ground like any old potato plant. I was home digging up potatoes when I began having contractions, and everyone else was out in the fields. At first, I ignored the disturbance because the potatoes needed harvesting no less than the hay, and I was convinced I had enough time as it had taken three days to bring my eldest daughter into the world. But when the pangs intensified and I thought I had better go inside, it was too late: all I could do was squat there in the potato patch and let nature take its course. Two years later, when I had my third daughter, it was the same story, but that time, I was down at the beach gathering seaweed when the contractions began. From my previous experience, I knew how things would go, so I went behind a big rock where I would have sand beneath my feet, but as I was delivering, the tide began coming in, and it was only by the grace of God that the child wasn’t swept away. After two births in nature, I didn’t dare venture far from the farmhouse the next times I was due, and because of that, it was soft bedclothes that received my three boys, not sea and soil.”
It was evident from the other passenger’s expression that she wasn’t certain whether Steinunn was telling her what really happened or a dream. Still, it being an excellent story, she decided not to ask, although she did peer at the sisters as if trying to guess which had come from where and which had come into the world the ordinary way. They lay sprawled over each other like kits in their den, deathly pale and helpless from nausea, but their brothers, apart from the youngest, sleeping in his mother’s lap, were no longer susceptible to seasickness and had stayed on deck with the crew.
Steinunn’s fellow passenger had no such stories of her own, having delivered all of her children indoors, but in order not to be outdone by the widow, she resorted to relating some unusual delivery stories that she’d heard. After chatting long enough to reach the point when conversants begin sharing their personal circumstances and plans, Steinunn told the woman briefly about her desire to provide her children with educations. The woman, astonished at Steinunn’s daring, rocked on her mattress and asked whether it wasn’t madness for the widow to rush off into the unknown with six children and an empty purse. Steinunn replied that in this case, having no money made no difference.
“In Iceland, no one who works dies.”
Her fellow passenger agreed, but said that she, poor commoner that she was, could never have imagined sending her children to school, and in any case, it was too late now, since they’d all grown up and moved away. Yet she couldn’t resist mentioning one of her sons, who was a highly distinguished person, “and a deckhand on the Gullfoss itself, neither more nor less, the new ship that arrived in the spring. On board, they dance and sing, I’m told; the ship is so big and steady that there’s hardly any rolling out on the open sea. The cabins are all first class, and when the ship glides into the ports of Europe, all of the passengers, most of whom are higher-ups, gather on deck and wave at the crowd waiting on the quay.” Steinunn, who’d had to settle for a place in the ship’s hold to spare expenditure and had little desire to hear about the luxuries of the upper class, thought for a moment before replying that she doubted that people waited on the quay in foreign lands—“at least not the men, because as far as I know, all of Europe is at war, and they’re most likely on the battlefield, and although I don’t doubt the magnificence of the ship, I can hardly imagine that women on the Continent have any more time than we do for loitering on the quay, even if a ship docks.” At this reminder of the war being fought on the Continent, Steinunn’s fellow passenger grew anxious about her son and didn’t hear it when Karitas asked quietly whether she had any idea what it cost to sail aboard such a fine ship. When no answer came, Karitas gave Bjarghildur a little nudge and whispered in her ear: “Do you think we’ll ever sail overseas aboard such a ship?” Bjarghildur responded crustily to the irritating whispering, waved Karitas off, and exhaled weakly, “Leave me alone; I have no home.” Karitas saw that there was little to be gained from her in the state she was in and turned to Halldóra to ask the same thing, but stopped when she saw her sister’s expression. It didn’t result from nausea alone, that much she knew, and she stroked her sister’s arm to express affection and sympathy. Her sister just lay there, curled up and miserable on her makeshift bed, although the suffering on her face did nothing to spoil her comeliness. She resembled an image of the Savior on the cross.
Gloom settled over the hold; they were out on the deep, and the rolling intensified. The vomiting worsened, the little ones wet themselves, and the sisters held their noses, tried to breathe through their mouths. Then they felt the ship slow down; the engines hiccupped and stopped. People propped themselves on their elbows and stared at the hatches. For several moments, neither a cough nor a groan was heard.
“Ice,” someone then groaned from one corner. “Damned ice.”
The hatches were torn open.
Freezing sea air streamed into the hold.

Purchase your copy, here!

Kristín Marja Baldursdóttir is one of Iceland’s most acclaimed writers and the
internationally bestselling author of numerous novels, including Karitas Untitled,
a Nordic Council Literature Prize nominee; Street of the Mothers; Chaos on
Canvas; and Seagull’s Laughter, which was adapted for the stage and also into
an award-winning film. She received her degree in 1991 from the University of
Iceland and has also worked as a teacher and a journalist. Among Kristín Marja’s
many honors are the Knight’s Cross of the Icelandic Order of the Falcon for her
achievements in writing and her contributions to Icelandic literature, the Jónas
Hallgrímsson Prize, and the Fjöruverðlaun Women’s Literature Prize. Kristín Marja
lives in Reykjavík.
Philip Roughton is an award-winning translator of many of Iceland’s best-known
authors, including Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness, Jón Kalman Stefánsson,
Þórarinn Eldjárn, Bergsveinn Birgisson, and Steinunn Sigurðardóttir.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. OIKOS™- Art, Books & more
    Mar 01, 2022 @ 17:15:29

    Sounds great. Thanks for the introduction, Sis! xx Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. OIKOS™- Art, Books & more
    Mar 01, 2022 @ 17:14:47

    Reply

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