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The Woman at 1,000 Degrees

The International Bestseller

Hallgrímur Helgason


‘Incredibly funny, incredibly insightful and incredibly moving’ Fiona Mozley, author of Hot Stew

A darkly comic and explosive tale of a world at war and one island girl’s struggle to survive

Eighty-year old Herra Björnsson lies alone in her garage waiting to die. Oh, she has two weeks left, maybe three – she has booked her cremation appointment, at a blistering 1,000 degrees, so it won’t be long. But until then she has her cigarettes, her laptop, a World War II grenade, and her memories to sustain her. 

One of the most original narrators in literary history, Herra takes readers with her on a dazzling ride of a novel as she reflects – in a voice by turns darkly funny, poignant and always, always smart – on the mishaps, tragedies and turns of luck that shaped her life. And with a bawdy, uncompromising spirit, she has survived it all. As hilarious as it is heartbreaking, Hallgrímur Helgason tells the deeply moving story of a woman swept up by the forces of history. 

  • Publication date: November 1, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781786074553
  • RRP: £12.99
  • Pages: 464
  • Publication date: February 1, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781786071699
  • RRP: £14.99
  • Pages: 464
  • Publication date: January 4, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781786071682
  • RRP: £4.99
  • Pages: 464


‘Published in 13 languages, this novel about one feisty Icelandic woman's proximity to history's big moments is a thoroughly entertaining ride.’

People magazine

‘A blitzkrieg of a novel… Funny, shrewd and reliably rude… This hugely entertaining tale is surely destined for classic status.’


‘In this black-humoured novel...the narrator recounts her misshapen life with engaging vividness.’

The New Yorker

‘Breathtaking… Herra’s life, and voice, is deeply compelling.’

Financial Times

‘The hottest new book from Iceland… [Herra’s] perspective might be just what we need in these uncertain times: She survives and shares her story on her terms. And what a story it is, one worth reading to further understand the complexity of World War II — and to enjoy the quick wit of a woman you won’t forget.’

Washington Post

The Woman at 1,000 Degrees is incredibly funny, incredibly insightful and incredibly moving.’

Fiona Mozley, author of Elmet

‘What a novel! Helgason’s Woman at 1,000 Degrees is a gutsy, brilliant book: I could not tear myself away from it. Octogenarian Herra Björnsson’s dying recollections, as she lies nursing a hand grenade between her legs in an Icelandic garage, hurtle the reader headfirst into an epic narrative of war, loss, desire and survival, across years and continents. Both funny and deeply moving, I finished it utterly dazzled, my ears ringing.’

Hannah Kent, author of Burial Rites

‘One of the most original novels of the year.’

Irish Independent

‘An explosive experience.’


‘By turns funny, sweet, gripping and sad but never sentimental, Helgason's a sensitive tale of a nearly lived life.’


‘Herra…is exceedingly quick-witted and has a wickedly colorful way with words… Brilliantly written with flashing insights.’


'The Woman at 1,000 Degrees is a bold work of fiction that gnaws at the silence blanketing the blackest holes of humanity to lay bare the author's dark vision of truth.'

Washington Independent Review of Books

Hallgrímur Helgason

Author page

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