Jón Gnarr (b. 1967) was diagnosed as a child with severe mental retardation due to dyslexia, learning difficulties, and ADHD. He nevertheless overcame his hardships and went on to become one of Iceland’s most well-known actors and comedians, and published the first two volumes in his fictionalized autobiography in 2006, The Indian, and 2009, The Pirate (the third volume will be published in Iceland in fall 2014–Deep Vellum will publish the trilogy in full in 2015-2016). In late 2009 Gnarr formed the joke Best Party with a number of friends with no background in politics. The Best Party, which is a satirical political party that parodies Icelandic politics and aims to make the life of the citizens more fun, managed a plurality win in the 2010 municipal elections in Reykjavik, and Gnarr became Major of Reykjavik (there’s a great documentary on Gnarr’s campaign, which introduces you to Gnarr’s unique and inspiring personality, called Gnarr). His term as mayor is up in June 2014 and he plans to use his post-mayor years to continue writing and speaking on issues that are most important to him: freedom of speech, human rights, protecting the environment, and achieving international peace.
Works Published by Deep Vellum
“A lot of people will undoubtedly wonder whether this is a biography or a novel. It’s both. It isn´t totally true, although there aren’t any total lies in it either. I don’t believe in lies. In fact I think lies are the greatest obstacle on our path towards spiritual development. But I shift quite a few things around. I write from memory. There are some things I have absolutely no recollection of myself, so I’ve had to rely on other people’s memories. But all memory is fiction. Our brain is the greatest master of deceit in the universe.”
The Indian is a highly entertaining piece of bittersweet autobiographical fiction by world-famous Icelandic comedian and Mayor of Reykjavik, Jón Gnarr, who describes his riotous childhood–which wasn’t always a bed of roses. It isn´t always easy to understand a kid’s actions, especially when he hasn’t the faintest understanding of them himself. And the things kids love doing the most are always the forbidden ones…
The Indian draws its title from Gnarr’s misfit childhood, subjected to constant bullying, and so the young Gnarr watching movies & reading books always roots for the Indians to defeat the bully cowboys. Diagnosed as “retarded” because of his severe dyslexia and ADHD, Gnarr spent several years as a child in a “home for retarded children.” He finally got out, only to find himself subject to ridicule in regular schools for being slow…and red-headed.
The Indian is the first novel in a trilogy that looks back at Gnarr’s childhood and being the subject of bullying (The Indian), adolescence when the young Gnarr discovers punk rock and starts to become the man he is today (The Pirate) and young adulthood when he dropped out of high school, got into trouble, and had to do time in a home for juvenile delinquents in a bleak, remote corner of Iceland (The Outlaw). Each book in the trilogy is told with a warmth and humor that allow Gnarr’s unique personality to shine through. Deep Vellum will publish this trilogy in full throughout 2015-2016.
translated by Lytton Smith
forthcoming January 2016
Sample works by & interviews with Jón Gnarr: