Christina Sunley describes herself as “an unknown writer.” However, whether or not people respond quickly to her name, they remember her book, The Tricking of Freya, described by Booklist as “Astonishingly accomplished . . . a bewitching tale...” “Sunley and her book, now translated into Icelandic as Freyjuginning, will tour Iceland in early June under the auspices of the INL International Visits Program (IVP).
The tour has been facilitated by complementary airfare from Icelandair.
It is quite a coup for someone who describes herself as “unknown” to have her English book translated into Icelandic, and to have interviews and articles in Icelandic newspapers.
A clue to the answer to “why” might lie in a review of the book, written by Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir and published in Iceland Review on-line on April 4. “I have read – or tried to read but given up on – such American books before,” the reviewer said. “I gave Sunley the benefit of a doubt, though, because she actually has a real connection with Iceland.... sThe Tricking of Freya was a pleasantly surprising read... I enjoyed every page of it... I love it how Sunley managed to weave some Icelandicness into the plot without making it dominant and it was interesting to learn more about the Icelandic settlements in North America.”
Christina is a uniquely ideal IVP candidate. Her grandparents came from Iceland, her mother grew up in Winnipeg, and Christina, who grew up on her mother’s stories of Winnipeg, was born in New York City and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
While researching for the book, she made three trips to Iceland, and spent a month as a writer-in-residence at Klaustrið (The Monastery), near her grandfather’s home.“My grandfather, Ólafur Björnsson, emigrated from the east of Iceland (Gíslastaðir near Egilsstaðir,) to New Iceland with his family when he was six years old, after the volcano Askja erupted,” Christina said. His parents were Björn Pétursson, and Olafía Olafsdóttir, who was the sister of editor, Jón Olafsson, and poet, Páll Olafsson. Her grandmother was Sigríður Elínborg Brandson, who was born in Gardar, North Dakota in 1889. The daughter of Jón Brandsson and Margrét Guðbrandsdóttir, from Fremribrekku in Dalasýsly, her grandmother was the Fjallkona at the 1932 Icelandic Festival.Christina’s mother, Edith Björnson, was born in Winnipeg in 1924.
“My mother’s parents died while she was still young, and she was adopted by an Icelandic relative in the United States,” said Christina. In Christina’s novel, Freya, granddaughter of an Icelandic poet, lives in New York, travels to Gimli to meet family, senses a dark family secret, and travels to Iceland to discover the truth.Christina has a BFA in Film from New York University, and received her Masters in English/Creative Writing from San Francisco State University.
Although The Tricking of Freya is her first novel, she has had short fiction published in literary journals. She will blog about her book tour and travels around Iceland, so for some armchair travel fun, visit http://christinasunley.typepad.com/
Her tour stops will include the National Culture House in Reykjavík, the Reykjavík Academy, the Gunnar Gunnarsson Institute, and the Amts Library in Akureyri.