Ulla-Lena Lundberg: Is [Ice]

1 November 2012 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Helsingfors: Schildts & Söderströms, 2012. 364 p.
ISBN 978-951-52-2987-8
€ 23.25, hardback
Finnish translation:
Helsinki: Teos & Schildts & Söderströms, 2012. 365 p.
Suomennos [Translated by]: Leena Vallisaari
ISBN 978-951-851-475-9
€ 28.40, hardback

Ulla-Lena Lundberg (born on the island of Kökar, Åland, 1947) is already the author of an extensive list of award-winning books, but her new novel Is (‘Ice’) is undoubtedly her most impressive work. It is written in a classic genre, an epic bound by time and place, in which the sensitive portrayal of characters and details takes a strongly ethical direction. Is describes life in a outer archipelago in the late 1940s, where a young priest arrives with his small family. In his calling he is a man devoted to the Word: helpful, friendly, naïvely unsuspecting in his philanthropy. His wife is cast in a different mould: a practical, at times apparently emotionless survivor, who runs a large household single-handed. The couple becomes part of the community of small islands and its harsh living conditions. At times the ice that shuts the island off from the outside world melts into freedom, only to lapse again into a cold that rudely limits human destinies. Barren nature and a community spirit reverting to early Christianity take the measure of each other in the novel’s dramatic events.
Translated by David McDuff



  1. Kay Augustine

    Any word on when Ice will be available in English?

  2. Soila Lehtonen

    Ulla-Lena Lundberg’s Finnish publisher, Schildts & Söderströms, has good news: Sort of Books (UK) will publish her Finlandia Prize -winning novel Is (in Finnish, Jää), ‘Ice’, in English. Exactly when is not yet known.
    The Editors

  3. Stefanía Arnórsdóttir

    Is är den bästa roman jag har läst länge. Tack Ulla! (Is [‘Ice’] is the best novel I’ve read in a long time. Thanks, Ulla!)

  4. pierre-marie finkelstein

    Any more translations to come ?

  5. Soila Lehtonen

    The translation rights of Lundberg’s novel Is (‘Ice’) have been sold to Estonia, Norway, Germany, Denmark, Hungary and Great Britain: we just need to wait….

  6. Pia Kääpä

    Kommer boken Is att översättas till tyska?

  7. Soila Lehtonen

    Dear Pia,

    translation rights have been sold to several countries, including Germany and Great Britain: an English-language translation is estimated to appear / early 2015 / late 2014, the German one in October.

  8. Balz Engler

    Why is it so difficult to order the Swedish original outside Finland? The websites of the publisher does not work (and they don’t answer emails), Akateeminen wants my phone number and then tells me it is invalid …

  9. Soila Lehtonen

    Dear Balz Engler,
    sorry to hear you find it difficult to obtain a copy of this book: it isn’t currently available at the Academic Bookstore – perhaps temporarily out of print? Finland is ‘closed’ for Xmas; please try to contact the publisher in January… Best wishes for 2015!

  10. Nigel Kelly

    Pleased to report that Ulla-Lena’s book “Ice” will be published on 4 February 2016 by Sort of Books ISBN 978-1908745477 £9.99.

  11. ruth koehler

    I absolutely loved Ice! It is so well written and hauntingly relevant to me as a Finn.
    I’m wondering what the narrator is called who comments periodically in italics, even appears among the group at various times yet remains unnamed.

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