Mayor of Reykjavík and World’s Coolest Politician Jón Gnarr Publishes Memoir

If you enjoy reading Electric Literature, join our mailing list! We’ll send you the best of EL each week, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming submissions periods and virtual events.

He is Noam Chomsky’s favorite mayor, without competition. Lady Gaga thinks more mayors should be like him. Björk claimed that he “changed Iceland!!!,” with no fewer than three exclamation marks to make her point.

His name is Jón Gnarr, and he’s the current mayor of Reykjavík — but don’t worry if you haven’t heard of him, your chance is coming soon. Gnarr is stepping down from politics and stepping into literature. Such a move seems natural for an Icelander; the nation publishes more books per capita than in any other country, with five for every 1,000 citizens. The memoir, whose World English rights have been acquired by Melville House, is modestly titled, Gnarr: How I Became the Mayor of a Large City in Iceland and Changed the World.

Gnarr won’t be the average politician’s memoir, in case the title didn’t tip you off. The unconventional mayor will recount his founding of Iceland’s “Best Party” in 2009, following the collapse of the nation’s economy. Gnarr subsequently ran for mayor on the platform of free towels for public pools, a new polar bear for the zoo, and a drug-free parliament “by 2020” — and then won the election.

While his satirizing of Iceland’s political system is entertaining enough, Gnarr also took on more serious issues during his time as mayor, such as dressing in drag to support Gay Pride or donning a colorful ski mask to protest Pussy Riot’s arrest.

“If there’s two things we like at Melville House, it’s comedy and political activism,” Melville’s co-publisher, Valerie Merians, said in the press release. ”The American political scene is a pretty humorless place these days. We can learn a lot from Jón Gnarr.”

Gnarr, who was a comedian before he was a politician, will be in New York to launch his book this June.

More Like This

8 Books About Mothers Separated From Their Daughters

What happens when families are torn apart?

Jan 21 - Eman Quotah

Witchcraft, Hysterical Teenagers, and Heart Fetishists

Mariana Enriquez's "The Dangers of Smoking in Bed" features sociopolitical horror stories set in modern-day Argentina

Jan 21 - JR Ramakrishnan

Signs Your Son May Not Get into Harvard

"Chance Me" from Life Among the Terranauts by Caitlin Horrocks, recommended by Ramona Ausubel

Jan 20 - Caitlin Horrocks
Thank You!