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The Mark - Frida Isberg

The Mark

By: Frida Isberg

Paperback | 30 April 2024

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A debut novel of big ideas, The Mark is about misinformation, partisanship and how societies polarise.

In the near future, in Reykavik, in a world like our own, society is divided about the controversial Empathy Test, which measures an individual's capacity for compassion and identifies anti-social behaviour in citizens. Two thirds of the country, including public servants and politicians, have undergone the test, and 'marked' themselves in an official register, open to the public. One third remains 'unmarked' and more and more private and public spaces are closing their doors to them. In two months' time, citizens face a national referendum, in which they will vote on whether the test should be mandatory or not.

Amid the rising tension and via the voices of four compelling characters-the sceptical teacher Vetur, the influential psychologist li, the businesswoman Eyja, who fails the test, and the school dropout Tristan, who is fighting for the right not to be tested-we are confronted with urgent ethical dilemmas, prejudice, injustice, and private trauma. The suspense intensifies as these four individuals try to navigate a brave new world. The rules of the game have changed. What are the consequences?

For fans of Black Mirror, or readers of the novels of Jennifer Egan and Naomi Alderman, The Mark is a brilliant, topical novel by an exciting new writer. Frida Isberg's book asks- do we want to live in a world defined by our faith in each other, or by our fear of the future.

About the Author

Frida Isberg is an Icelandic author based in Reykjavik. She has written the poetry collections Stretch Marks and Leather Jacket Weather, the short story collection Itch and the novel The Mark, which won the Fjara Literature Prize, the Icelandic Booksellers Award, and the P.O. Enquist Award. She was the 2021 recipient of the Optimist Award, given by the President of Iceland to one national artist. Frida is a member of the writers' collective Svikaskald and an occasional contributor to The Times Literary Supplement. Her work has been or is to be translated into nineteen languages.

About the Author

Frida Isberg is an Icelandic author based in Reykjavik. She has written the poetry collections Stretch Marks and Leather Jacket Weather, the short story collection Itch and the novel The Mark, which won the Fjara Literature Prize, the Icelandic Booksellers Award, and the P.O. Enquist Award. She was the 2021 recipient of the Optimist Award, given by the President of Iceland to one national artist. Frida is a member of the writers' collective Svikaskald and an occasional contributor to The Times Literary Supplement. Her work has been or is to be translated into nineteen languages.
Industry Reviews
'[The Mark] is a novel that fascinates and frightens. Frida Isberg's debut novel establishes her her amongst the very top rank of our current and future authors.' * Nettavisen (6/6 stars) *

'One thinks of Aldous Huxley throughout this lively, breathless and very contemporary text where political correctness has become the guarantee of the best of all possible worlds.' * Le Monde *

'Every sentence brings something new, every dialogue shifts the atmosphere in the room. With an eye for the contemporary and convincing attention for her characters, Frida Isberg takes a big step into the literary world.' * P.O Enquist Prize judges *

'A gripping and unpredictable novel ... intriguing style ... the imagery entertaining, ambiguous and sleek ... One can 'sink into the story like a hot tub', to quote the text itself.' * Frettabladid *

'A future disturbingly close to us ... Frida's idea about the empathy test is absolutely brilliant, the world is incredibly well built and intriguing. The novel provides countless reflections about the society we live in ... Frida Isberg is a clever author and extremely sure-footed stylistically ... She deserves praise for daring to do something new.' * Morgunbladid *

'Frida does not only address existential questions on power and morality with intuition and wisdom but also tackles language and style with great and captivating vigour. Each persona has its own life experience and a stance which surfaces calculated and elaborated in idiom and choice of words. [...] It's been a long time since I've read anything so remarkable. Phenomenal and powerful fiction.' * Skald *

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