My Favorite Novel - Sverrir Norland





Sverrir Norland



Not long before he died, my grandfather—I called him Afitold me about a novel he had been thinking about writing for years. His story was built around the life of the President of Iceland’s private chauffeur, and recounted his adventures, both professional and private. It included colorful politicians, diplomats, celebrities, plus some wheeling and dealing, and more sinister aspects, as well as—or maybe I’m just making this up now—a steamy affair between the driver and the First Lady, who was always so frustrated by her husband’s overblown ego and his lack of emotional intelligence (she should probably have taken his place as President). I loved the premise of the book, and so I asked Afi whether he was already well on his way into writing it: “No, I haven’t set down a single word, my boy,” he replied casually, “I’ve only been fooling around with it in my head.” This was very unsettling; he had to write it down! Afi smiled, his handsome, wrinkled face bathed in the afternoon light, the smell of milky coffee rising from his chipped cup. Over the next weeks and months, I was always eager to pick up on our discussion of his novel, which we did many times; it seemed to be an ever-expanding magical web of spine-chilling, shocking thrills and twists, and I figured that we had a bestseller in our hands. 

And then Afi died. He never wrote a single word about his chauffeur; all that persists are those dim silhouettes in my notebook. But as the years have gone by, this unwritten novel, with all its opportunities and its potential, has brought me more joy than any other work of literature; it has by now, I think, become my all-time favorite book, the one work of art I try to live up to everytime I write. 



Mark Tallowin