A timely and provocative novel about a mysterious Icelandic neo-Nazi and the enduring global allure of fascism.
In England in 1962, an Icelandic man is found dead on a train bound for Cheltenham Spa. In his possession, policemen find a map on which a swastika has been drawn with a red pen. Who was he, and where was he going?
In a novel that reads as both biography and mystery, the internationally celebrated novelist Sjón tells the story of Gunnar Kampen, the founder of Iceland’s antisemitic nationalist party, with ties to a burgeoning network of neo-Nazi groups across the globe. Told in a series of scenes and letters spanning Kampen’s lifetime—from his childhood in Reykjavík during the Second World War, in a household strongly opposed to Hitler and his views, through his education, political radicalization, and final clandestine mission to England—Red Milk urges readers to confront the international legacy of twentieth-century fascism and the often unknowable forces that drive some people to extremism.
Based on one of the ringleaders of a little-known neo-Nazi group that operated in Reykjavík in the late 1950s and early 1960s, this taut and potent novel explores what shapes a young man and the enduring, disturbing allure of Nazi ideology.
Sj n (CoDex 1962) offers up a chilling study of an Icelandic white supremacist. In 1958, Nazi sympathizer Gunnar P lsson Kampen reaches out to leaders of fascist movements and political parties in the U.S., Great Britain, and Sweden, hoping to gain recognition for his fledgling, small-time Sovereign Power Movement. The reader knows from the first chapter, set in 1962, that Gunnar will be found dead on a train in Britain; in an afterword, Sj n claims he used the framing device to make his story more palatable ("It is easier to deal with a dead Nazi than a living one"). Gunnar grows up in a middle-class family with an abusive father who's "afraid of Hitler." As he grows, visitors and family members drop hints of their allegiance to white supremacist ideology. One such woman, wearing a swastika broach, holds his hand up to a table lamp and declares, "Only white people let the light into themselves!" The novel becomes epistolary midway through, revealing the deepening of Gunnar's bigotry through letters written to a love interest, and Sj n keeps the brief story taut as he works his way back to Gunnar's mysterious death. This illuminating tale makes for worthy companion to anti-fascist works by Hannah Arendt and Jean-Paul Sartre.