Guðrún Eva Mínervudóttir has been a professional writer since the age of 22, but this is her first novel to be translated into English. The Creator is a unique story with traces of dark humor.
Set in modern day Iceland, it focuses on the lives of two Icelanders. The first is Sveinn, a natural loner, with the unusual occupation of making sex dolls in Akranes, and the second is Loá, a mother with a complex and somewhat difficult family life.
Our two characters meet when Loá has a flat tire, and mistaking Sveinn’s place for a garage, calls in to get it changed. Sveinn obliges, but not until they’ve eaten a meal and consumed far too much drink. Loá awakens, and discovers the dolls. She makes the unusual decision to steal one of them (Raven-black haired Lola) to provide a companion for her daughter, who suffers from a mental health condition.
What follows is a dissection of how the two characters’ lives continue to collide, with scenes often being told from both points of view. The mental health aspect is sensitively handled, although perhaps never fully explained.
Sveinn’s life is illuminated by the inclusion of his only friend, Kjartan. Sveinn is shown to be caring under his tough exterior, and believes his works to be pieces of art rather than tools of gratification.
Guðrún manages to draw empathy, even sympathy, for the two main characters lonely, incomplete lives. The strange, yet comforting relationship that builds up is documented slowly, although the closing pages would leave the reader to believe that it will continue to grow.
There are some questions that go unanswered. Why is Lárus so strange, and yet helpful towards Sveinn? Who exactly is threatening Sveinn? Why doesn’t Sveinn just change his phone number?
I particularly enjoyed the aspects of the book that were uniquely Icelandic. For example, when roads are shut due to adverse weather, driving deep under the sea in Hvalfjörður tunnel, or dealing with lackadaisical police when Loá tries to report her daughter as missing.
Guðrún has produced an intelligent, intriguing piece of work with The Creator. The way that I know this? The characters of Loá and Sveinn live on in my mind, long after the book has been closed for the final time.
The Creator is out through Portobello Books. It is available for purchase on amazon.co.uk among other webstores.
Review by Edward Hancox - [email protected]