BUTTERFLIES IN NOVEMBER – AUDUR AVA OLAFSDOTTIR (i have no idea how to make diacritical marks, especially on capital letters)

Butterflies in NovemberButterflies in November by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir
My rating: 3/5 cats
One StarOne StarOne Star

this book is like being forced to watch amelie on a loop while bjork makes you snort pixie stix.

individually, all those things are great, but there’s a point where it just becomes too much – a quirky overload; a birthday party where manic children hopped up on frosting throw whimsy at the wall to see what’ll stick.

it’s not entirely twee – it definitely has its dark moments (animals will die) but it was just so… much. it was too willfully eccentric for me: an emotionally detached and unnamed woman who makes her living as a translator, fluent in upwards of ten languages but also somewhere on the spectrum is dumped by her lover and her husband on the same day, visits a fortune teller, is responsible for the death of a goose, wins two different lotteries and, despite not liking children at all, embarks on an icelandic road trip with tumi; the son of a friend who is

a deaf four-year-old clairvoyant boy with poor eyesight and one leg three centimetres shorter than the other, which makes him limp when he is only wearing his socks

where she engages in casual sex (not with tumi, obviously), oddly misogynist observations, her brand of nostalgia, an estonian choir, butterflies-as-metaphor, and it ends with more than forty recipes and some knitting tips.

it’s just too much

this reads like a fairy tale in its reliance on coincidence, convenient narrative turns, and groupings of threes: It’s all threes here,’ she says, ‘three men in your life over a distance of 300 kilometres, three dead animals, three minor accidents or mishaps… View Spoiler »

it was surreal in a way that felt uncontrolled; sloppy and off-kilter, and its supposed charm never reached me through its aimless and circular meandering.

i have been assured that the translation is not the best, so that might have something to do with it, on top of my unfamiliarity with icelandic literature and my allergy to the picaresque.

not for karen. maybe for you.

read my reviews on goodreads

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Amazon Disclaimer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon properties including but not limited to,, or,,, or


this feels gauche, but when i announced i was starting a blog, everyone assured me this is a thing that is done. i’m not on facebook, i’ve never had a cellphone or listened to a podcast; so many common experiences of modern life are foreign to me, but i’m certainly struggling financially, so if this is how the world works now, i’d be foolish to pass it up. any support will be received with equal parts gratitude and bewilderment.

To Top