The Indian


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.

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

Publication Date: May 5, 2015

Paperback: 9781941920121
Ebook: 9781941920138



The Indian is a highly entertaining piece of bittersweet autobiographical fiction by world-famous Icelandic comedian and Mayor of Reykjavik, Jón Gnarr. Gnarr revisits his tortured childhood and describes with unparalleled naturalism the experience of growing up with learning and emotional disorders in a time before either were understood or treated outside of psych wards. Bullied relentlessly, the young Gnarr lashes out at the world, unable to fit in, an outcast.

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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.


“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

“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

“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

Critic’s Pick: “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 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

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