Icelandic Crime Novelists Top Best Seller List in France

Vala Hafstað

Topping the list of best-selling crime novels in France this week are books by Icelandic authors. In first place is The Mist (original title: Mistur, 2017) by Ragnar Jónasson, and in second place is Arnaldur Indriðason’s Wall of Silence (original title: Þagnarmúr, 2020). Morgunblaðið reports that this is the second week The Mist tops the list, and last week, The Wall of Silence ranked seventh.

Pétur Már Ólafsson, publisher at Bjartur & Veröld, believes this to be the first time that two Icelandic authors top the best seller list abroad.

Three additional books by Ragnar are on this week’s top 100 best-selling crime novels in France: The Girl Who Died (Þorpið, 2018), ranking 12th, Winterkill (Vetrarmein, 2020), number 72, and The Darkness (Dimma, 2015), in 87th place.

“Given the large number of crime novels published in the world and in France, it is amazing to have two Icelandic authors ranking number one and two,” Pétur states.
“Arnaldur has been a very big name in France, and now, Ragnar has made it there, too. That shows how far Icelandic crime novelists have come.”

Arnaldur’s work has been popular in this market for about two decades, followed by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir’s work and now Ragnar’s. Lately, author Eva Björg Ægisdóttir has joined them. “I believe her book ranked sixth on last year’s list of best-selling crime novels. We have a group of excellent authors,” Pétur states.

He states that the main reason for the authors’ success is simply the quality of their work. “Reputation is extremely important. Those books and the authors have been well received.” He adds that once readers discover a crime novel from a specific linguistic area, they start wondering what else originates there. One author, therefore, opens the door to another.


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