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

Electric Lit relies on contributions from our readers to help make literature more exciting, relevant, and inclusive. Please support our work by becoming a member today, or making a one-time donation here.
.

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

You Can’t Just Take Things That Don’t Belong To You

"Absences" by Mary Jones, recommended by Electric Literature

Jul 15 - Mary Jones

11 Novels Starring Essential Workers

Mail carriers, grocery workers, and healthcare providers aren’t just the heroes of the pandemic—they’re also the heroes of their own stories

Jul 15 - Preety Sidhu

Reading “Catch-22” Reminds Us That Sometimes It’s Noble to Quit

Joseph Heller's satirical war novel takes on new significance as people are forced to work through a pandemic

Jul 14 - Elyse Hauser
Thank You!