Dreamland

Year: 
2008
Publisher: 
Place: 
Reykjavík
Author of Review: 

Dreamland: A Self-Help Manual for a Frightened Nation

Published two years before the financial crash in 2008, Dreamland is something of an oracle document. It brings attention to the modern Icelander’s divided self; caught between the fast times of booming economic growth and the all too recent past as a pauper on the world’s stage.

Dreamland poses as a self-help book meant to free the nation from the government-sanctioned heavy industries and help to establish a new, environmentally conscious course for the country. To argue his case, Andri Snær looks at local politics and policies through events in recent Icelandic history as well as his own family history. After the crash – a time of drastic, revisionist history, with everyone looking for answers and/or scapegoats – the book became a marker for how this small nation lost its way and found itself at the centre of a worldwide financial meltdown.

More than anything, the book explores the state of the recently urbanized Icelander and their connection to their land, their nature and their nation – as well as to the rest of the planet. In doing so, it also addresses concerns often found in Icelandic fiction, particularly the loss of the farming culture that exemplified Icelandic life up to the 20th century. As a document of Icelandic history, it offers a fresh perspective on the Icelandic self-image at the dawn of the 21st century.