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ICELAND – a life-size sex doll drives the plot

The Creator by Guðrún Eva Mínervudóttir

Iceland is the country that sells the greatest number of books per capita – most are sold in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Iceland also has an amazing number of authors per capita.....

..... but probably only one book where a life-size silicone sex doll called Raven-Black Lola pulls together the lives of the key characters. Sleazy, it is not. It is by turns thoughtful and hilarious and bizarre in dealing with the nature of human loneliness.

The lonely are Sveinn, maker of high-quality sex dolls sold to other lonely men and Lóa, divorced and a stressed mother of two girls, one of whom, Margrét, withdraws from the world with anorexia. Their lives lock on a snowy night when Lóa’s car breaks down in the countryside near Sveinn’s home. His reluctant helps turns into tearful conversations over bottles of wine and Lóa wakes up early hung-over on his sofa.

In her attempts to first find the loo, then to sneak away, Lóa stumbles on Sveinn’s workshop with his half-finished silicone dolls hanging on hooks. Disturbed and fascinated by the human-sized dolls’ realistic features, Lóa makes an impulsive decision to steal one of the finished dolls as a present for her troubled daughter Margrét, as a companion for her in her isolation. She stuffs the mannequin into her car and speeds off back to Reyjavik. Sveinn chases after her to retrieve his stolen property but as the plot unfolds, they put aside their differences to hunt for Margrét who has run away for fear of being institutionalised with her illness.

On the way, we meet Lárus, a forlorn corner-shop assistant, who initially helps to track down Lóa the thief, and faithful customers of Sveinn who order dolls produced to their precise requirements and turn them into subjects of veneration.

An unusual and compelling novel, beautifully translated by Sarah Bowen. Winner of the 2011 Icelandic Literary Prize for Fiction, Guðrún Eva Mínervudóttir has published seven novels. ‘The Creator’ was first published in 2008; it is the first of Guðrún Eva’s works to be translated into English.