The Indian

The Indian

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By Jón Gnarr
Translated from the Icelandic by Lytton Smith

Jón Gnarr's literary debut and the first book in a trilogy exploring his tortured childhood and adolescence that made him into the man the world knows and loves today.

Publication Date: May 5, 2015

Paperback: 9781941920121
eBook: 9781941920138

Description

"A beautiful but disturbing portrait of a misfit painfully aware that he's not like anyone else." —NPR

Former comedian (and mayor) Jón Gnarr now turns his lens from politics to tell his life story in his literary debut.The Indian is a highly entertaining and bittersweet literary memoir by Jón Gnarr, the world-famous Icelandic comedian and former Mayor of Reykjavik, Iceland, revisiting his troubled childhood. Diagnosed as "retarded" because of his severe dyslexia and ADHD, Gnarr spent time in a "home for retarded children" before getting out, only to find himself subjected to constant bullying, leading the young Gnarr to identify with the Indians against bully cowboys on TV.

The Indian is the first book in a trilogy that looks back at Gnarr's childhood and adolescence, providing the unparalleled coming of age story of an outcast who overcame the odds and matured into a world-renowned comedian, actor, writer, and politician. Each book in the trilogy is told with the warmth and humor that defines Gnarr's unique personality, allowing readers of all ages to identify with his story.

Reviews

"Let "normal" people have their 'normal' heroes. The rest of us have Jón Gnarr, and the world's a better place for it." —Michael Schaub, NPR

"Loved The Indian. Am adding "lice-rats" to my lexicon. No one will never know I stole it from the poor people of Blesugrof." —Doug Stanhope, via Twitter

"By turns funny and despairing (Gnarr had ADHD and severe dyslexia as a child), as well as providing a glimpse into Icelandic culture beyond Björk, The Indian is entertaining and enlightening." —Cary Darling, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"A dark memoir full of black humor that details the author’s painful experiences as a child unable to fit in due to struggling with learning and emotional disorders, Gnarr’s book illuminates the struggles that come from being considered broken. Written with cleverly shifting points of view, this haunting narrative invites readers to consider the trauma of an outcast child." World Literature Today

"Painful yet intensely beautiful." —Nancy O’Donnell, Rochester (NY) Democrat & Chronicle

"Gnarr’s finest accomplishment in this book, surpassing others in the genre, is the absolute immediacy of the childhood experience. . . . Gnarr returns those emotions—all the emotions of childhood—to their context, adding the suffering of learning them, finding new restrictions, fearing ones you don’t know, and we relate to them once again. This is the gift of The Indian, the way that it makes the child, our child-self, alive, close to heart and mind, in all his pain and his happiness. The Indian is brave in this gift, and dares me to be brave too, enough to find the child of my past and make him present." P.T. Smith, Three Percent

"A novel about self-discovery in a world where being different is of no good. It is an ingenious and bleak book, cleverly exploring the life of a ginger misfit, with writing that seamlessly blends Jon Gnarr’s comedic abilities with an emotional connection that results in a need to learn everything there is to know about the boy who didn’t fit in his surroundings and wanted to become an Indian." —Denis Barbov, Graphic Policy

"The Indian is refreshingly original because it not only speaks to a very specific subset of people who have learned to cope with, or are learning to cope with their learning disabilities, but also anyone who has ever experienced feeling like an outcast or alone in their childhood, aka: Everyone. Gnarr’s story is incredibly relevant to all our lives and this is a book that needed to be written . . .this story of Jón Gnarr, similarly to how it was necessary to write, is a book that must be read." —Eilidh, Young Adults Book Central

"As a Psychiatrist I found this book to be amazing. I loved the juxtaposition between his experience and the excerpts before each chapter from various Psychiatrists. This is the best first-person account of the real neuro-biological differences that children with serious learning differences have. This is a bittersweet story but Gnarr's genius is in how he keeps the tone victorious. I loved this book." —Adam Rekerdres via Goodreads

"A candid, anecdotal, and lighthearted approach to political speeches is what propelled Gnarr into popularity in the wake of Iceland’s 2008 financial crisis. His Best Party, composed of punk rockers, campaigned on free towels in all swimming pools and a polar bear for the capital’s zoo, among other things.” Foreign Policy

Excerpt

If I find I don’t like the rules when I’m grown up, will I have to stick with them? I’m simply myself. Is there a place for me? I know some of the rules, even if I don’t know everything. I know how to talk better than everyone else. I know plenty. I’m funny. I know how to say entertaining things. Maybe I can tell stories when I grow up. I can tell people stories and take part that way. I’d like to be a part of things. It’s just that I’m a bit weird. I’m not like the others. I’m not good at anything that’s of any value.I feel bad about myself. I don’t feel good inside. I feel so bad that I get tears in my eyes when I think about it. So I don’t think about it.

 

Biographical Note

Jón Gnarr was born in 1967 in Reykjavík. He formed the Best Party in 2009 and became the mayor of Reykjavík in 2010. His acting work includes the movies The Icelandic Dream and A Man Like Me and the television series The Night Shift, which aired on BBC4. As a child, Gnarr was diagnosed with severe mental retardation due to dyslexia, learning difficulties, and ADHD. He nevertheless overcame his hardships and went on to become one of Iceland’s most well-known actors and comedians, and published the first two volumes in his fictionalized autobiography in 2006, The Indian, and 2009, The Pirate (the third volume, The Outlaw will be published in Iceland in fall 2015–Deep Vellum will publish the trilogy in full in 2015-2016).In late 2009 Gnarr formed the joke Best Party with a number of friends with no background in politics. The Best Party, which was a satirical political party that parodied Icelandic politics and aimed to make the life of the citizens more fun, managed a plurality win in the 2010 municipal elections in Reykjavik, and Gnarr became Major of Reykjavik (there’s a great documentary on Gnarr’s campaign, which introduces you to Gnarr’s unique and inspiring personality, called Gnarr). His term as mayor ended in June 2014 and he plans to use his post-mayor years to continue writing and speaking on issues that are most important to him: freedom of speech, human rights, protecting the environment, and achieving international peace. Now that his term as mayor is complete, he has moved to Texas to focus on writing, speaking on issues he holds most dear (world peace, sexual and gender equality, freedoms for writers and journalists), and performing stand-up comedy again