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The Mark (Merking)

Being translated into English by Larissa Kyzer


WINNER of the Optimist Award 2021, awarded by the President of Iceland
WINNER of the Icelandic Bookseller's Award 2021 for Fiction
of the Icelandic Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022


THE MARK is a polyphonic novel set in Reykjavík in the near-future, a society divided by a development in social technology—a diagnostic tool called The Empathy Test that measures compassion or amorality. In less than two months, a national referendum will determine whether ‘marking’ will become compulsory. Four main characters face dilemmas around their agency and autonomy while navigating everyday desires and duties, and the dawn of irreversible changes in healthcare ethics, socioeconomic stability and the cultural fabric lay bare the balance of their loyalties and conflicts. A novel exploring partisanship and polarization, prejudice and empathy, THE MARK heralds the impactful, full-length debut from one of Iceland’s most exciting young authorial voices.


"A gripping and unpredictable novel ...  intriguing style ... the imagery entertaining, ambiguous and sleek ... One can 'sink into the story like a hot tub', to quote the text itself." – Fréttablaðið


"A future disturbingly close to us ... Fríða's idea about the empathy test is absolutely brilliant, the world is incredibly well built and intriguing. The novel provides countless reflections about the society we live in ... Fríða Ísberg is a clever author and extremely sure-footed stylistically ... She deserves praise for daring to do something new." – Morgunblaðið


"Fríða does not only address existential questions on power and morality with intuition and wisdom but also tackles language and style with great and captivating vigour. Each persona has its own life experience and a stance which surfaces calculated and elaborated in idiom and choice of words. [...] It's been a long time since I've read anything so remarkable. Phenomenal and powerful fiction." – Skald


"Merking is a tortuous book, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes alternating be-tween philosophical, serious, exciting and funny. The characters are not only written by the psychological intuition that also characterized Itch, but they are also unusual and welcome into the rather self-centered world of Icelandic literature [...] a breath of fresh air." –

Publisher: Forlagið
Territories: Arabic: Manshorat AlAfandi FZE; Australia and New Zealand: Text; Brazil: Fosforo; Denmark: Gyldendal; Faroe Islands: Sprotin; Finland: WSOY; France: Laffont; Germany: Hoffmann und Campe; Hungary: Europa; Italy: La Nave di Teseo; Lithuania: Sofoklis; Netherlands: De Geus; Norway: Aschehoug; Spain: Literatura Random House/PRH; Sweden: Norstedts; Turkey: Domingo Publishing; UK: Faber
Other Fríða Isberg Titles