Elf Deniers vs Elf Believers
There are certain problems with writing about elves. I’m not the kind of guy who believes in them. I write about a tough Boston homicide cop: could Magnus really believe in elves? There are no elves in Raymond Chandler’s books, nor in Agatha Christie or even Ian Rankin.
But I couldn’t write about Iceland honestly and avoid the subject entirely. It was a problem.
"My personal encounters with elves are few, only one to be exact. This was in 1997 and occurred while I was supervising a new pipeline being placed in Mosfellsbaer, a suburb of Reykjavík. The contractor doing the work mentioned in a progress meeting that his equipment kept breaking down while attempting to remove a large boulder smack in the middle of the pipeline’s planned route.
Do Icelanders believe in elves? A small minority certainly do. Most people’s grandmothers do. Some people don’t, don’t think any of their countrymen do either and are profoundly irritated by foreigners asking them about the subject.
I heard Ed Miliband, former leader of the British Labour Party, interviewing Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Iceland’s prime minister, on his podcast Reasons to be Cheerful. After a serious discussion on gender inequality in Iceland, he asked her about the elves. You could hear the panic in her voice. What should she do – deny an important part of Icelandic culture or admit to believing in the hidden people?