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Five Great Books set in GREENLAND

7th December 2019

Greenland is the latest place for us to visit in our ‘Great books set in…’ series. Five great books set in Greenland.

Five Great Books set in GREENLAND

According to Inuit culture in Greenland, a person possesses six or seven souls. The souls take the form of tiny people scattered throughout the body” – Annie Dillard

The Sea Road by Margaret Elphinstone

A haunting, compelling historical novel, “The Sea Road” is a daring re-telling of the 11th-century Viking exploration of the North Atlantic from the viewpoint of one extraordinary woman. Gudrid lives at the remote edge of the known world, in a starkly beautiful landscape where the sea is the only connection to the shores beyond. It is a world where the old Norse gods are still invoked, even as Christianity gains favour, where the spirits of the dead roam the vast northern ice-fields, tormenting the living, and Viking explorers plunder foreign shores. Taking the accidental discovery of North America as its focal point, Gudrid’s narrative describes a multi-layered voyage into the unknown, all recounted with astonishing immediacy and rich atmospheric detail.

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Cold Earth by Sarah Moss

Six archaeologists are digging in Greenland when a killer swine flue sweeps the globe, leaving them isolated. They batten down in the Norse farmstead where they are excavating, scare themselves and write home to anyone who might be left alive.

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The Girl Without Skin by Mads Peder Nordbo

When a mummified Viking corpse is discovered in a crevasse out on the edge of an ice sheet, journalist Matthew Cave is sent to cover the story. The next day the mummy is gone, and the body of the policeman who was keeping watch is found naked and flayed—exactly like the victims in a gruesome series of murders that terrified the remote town of Nuuk in the 1970s.

As Matt investigates, he is shocked by the deprivation and brutal violence the locals take for granted. Unable to trust the police, he begins to suspect a cover-up. It’s only when he meets a young Inuit woman, Tupaarnaq, convicted of killing her parents and two small sisters, that Matt starts to realise how deep this story goes—and how much danger he is in.

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The Greenlanders by Jane Smiley

A magnificent novel of fourteenth-century Greenland, here is a rich and fascinating detail about the day-to-day lives–the joys and innumerble hardships–of a remarkable people. It is also the compelling story of one family–the proud land-owner Asgeir Gunnarsson, his daughter Margret, whose willfull independence leads her into passionate adultery and exile, and his son Gunnar, whose quest for knowledge is at the compelling center of this unforgettable book. Echoing the simple power of the old Norse sagas, here is a novel that brings a remote civilization to life–and shows how it was very like our own.

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The Prophets of the Eternal Fjord by Kim Leine

Idealistic, misguided Morten Falck is a newly ordained priest sailing to Greenland in 1787 to convert the Inuit to the Danish church. A rugged outpost battered by unremittingly harsh winters, Sukkertoppen is simmering with the threat of dissent; natives from neighboring villages have unified to reject Danish rule and establish their own settlement atop Eternal Fjord. As Falck becomes involved with those in his care his ambitious catechist, a lonely trader s wife, and a fatalistic widow he comes to love his faith and reputation are compromised. The internationally acclaimed novelist Kim Leine charts the tragic events that connect these seemingly disparate lives, while illuminating the brutal and tender impulses of those seeking redemption and the shifting line between religion and mysticism. In the tradition of We, the Drowned, The Prophets of Eternal Fjord is rich in earthy detail and Dickensian pathos, a visceral panorama of a fragile colony caught in the throes of history.”

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Tina for the TripFiction Team

Do you have a favourite book set in Greenland? Let us know in the Comments below!!!

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  1. User: judith works

    Posted on: 09/09/2020 at 9:50 pm

    I loved The Greenlanders, but for a classic try Rockwell Kent’s N by E with his own woodcuts. Published 1930 about a sailing trip north then east to Greenland in 1927.


    1 Comment

    • User: tripfiction

      Posted on: 10/09/2020 at 11:50 am

      Those sound like lovely recommendations. Thank you!


  2. User: MiriamSmith

    Posted on: 08/12/2019 at 5:45 pm

    I haven’t yet read a book set in Greenland but would certainly love to put that right.