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Kungar av Island by Einar Már Gudmundsson

Einar Már Gudmundsson tells a story about the history of the Knudsen family in the fictitious city of Tangavik in Iceland. A family that made a mark, because of business, politics or criminality. The story begins with Arnfinnur Knudsen, the man with the biggest hair in the country, living in the biggest house, according to the author.

Gudmundsson paints a humorous, colorful picture of Iceland and its people, especially the self-appointed kings that ruled Tangavik. The Knudsen family is going back two hundred years. They have built empires and been politically involved. But they also have their flaws, sometimes dysfunctional and dangerous. Arnfinnur was a teacher, a seaman, a guittarist and an expert of explosives. He falsified letters and tried to blow up the school. But he was also loyal to his pupils, helping them when they needed it.

Even if the Knudsen family is fictitious, the book is in many ways a criticism of society and how it was run, and hopefully there is some fragments of truth in it. The prose has a tone of sarcasm, and the power of these so called kings, their unbelievable deeds, frauds constant fights and drinking are entertaining for a while, but eventually they feel repetitive and eventually, the surrealistic touch runs the risk of losing its charm. The book contains many people and it's difficult to tell them apart and really get to know them. But, perhaps it's the author's intention to keep it mysterious and mythical. Perhaps he is inspired by the old, Icelandic sagas. Iceland has a tradition of stories and Gudmundsson names several of old authors and poets. A persistent reader, who manage to keep the characters and happenings apart, gets an exciting image of a special place.

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