Butterflies in November



* Long-listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2014 *

"I can't remember the last time I was so enchanted by a novel like I am by Butterflies in November. Zany, surprising, full of twists and turns, it left me breathless. I just love this book." --Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle and The Obituary Writer

After a day of being dumped--twice--and accidentally killing a goose, a young woman yearns for a tropical vacation far from the chaos of her life. Instead, her plans are wrecked by her best friend's four-year-old deaf-mute son, thrust into her reluctant care. But when the boy chooses the winning numbers for a lottery ticket, the two of them set off on a road trip across Iceland with a glove compartment stuffed full of their jackpot earnings. Along the way, they encounter black sand beaches, cucumber farms, lava fields, flocks of sheep, an Estonian choir, a falconer, a hitchhiker, and both of her exes desperate for another chance. What begins as a spontaneous adventure will unexpectedly and profoundly change the way she views her past and charts her future.

Butterflies in November is a blackly comic, charming, and uplifting tale of friends and lovers, motherhood, and self-discovery.

Product Details

$15.00  $13.80
Grove Press, Black Cat
Publish Date
December 01, 2014
5.5 X 0.9 X 8.2 inches | 0.6 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir was born in Iceland in 1958, studied art history in Paris and has lectured in History of Art at the University of Iceland. Her novel, The Greenhouse, won the DV Culture Award for literature, was nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Award, and translated into twenty-two languages. She currently lives and works in Reykjavik.


"With subtle prose and sardonic humor Olafsdottir upends expectations." --Carmela Ciuraru, New York Times

"Quirky and enchanting . . . a tale of resilient spirits on a journey." --Boston Globe

"This picaresque novel . . . is carried by the evocation of [Iceland's] bleak, moody beauty." --New Yorker

"Anyone who's fallen inexplicably in love with a European road-trip story will be vulnerable to this fictional journey around Iceland's Ring Road." --New York Magazine/Vulture.com (one of "9 Books You Need to Read")

"Two very unlikely travelers take a genuinely funny and gleefully manic Icelandic road trip. . . . A fresh and zany novel . . . and at its heart, is a tragicomedy rich in pathos and humor." --Malcolm Forbes, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"A beguiling road trip tale . . . an engaging and entertaining read." --New York Journal of Books

"Thoughtful and fun . . . a novel of surprising tension and tenderness." --Kirkus Reviews

"A funny and bizarre travelog of Iceland's unique culture and landscape . . . give in to the quirky spirit of the book." --Library Journal

"Ólafsdóttir has created a singular heroine in Butterflies in November unafraid, unapologetic and also unforgettable. When she enters a lottery, she wins it. When she has sex with the wrong man, she gets back into her car and keeps on driving. I loved her and this quirky, enticing novel that never stopped surprising." --Marcy Dermansky, author of Twins and Bad Marie

"Authentic. The story explores what freedom really means when romantic and familial bonds are pushed aside." --Publishers Weekly

"A bright and blissful journey into the darkest month in Iceland. Olafsdottir repeatedly smashes our idea of the everyday, only to sew it back together in a magically surprising and beautiful embroidery. A highly original and very charming novel." --Hallgrimur Helgason, author of The Hitman's Guide to Housecleaning

"A funny, moving, and occasionally bizarre exploration of life's upheavals and reversals." --Financial Times

"[An] evocative, humorous novel. . . . The beguiling imagery captures the fragile and fleeting beauty of those loved and lost, as well as the possibilities of self reinvention; of shedding skins, growing wings." --Observer

"A whimsical Icelandic journey. . . . There are moving moments of sadness and hilarity . . . and Olafsdottir shows a rare ability to write a serious and convincing small child; the boy's flowering relationship with his clueless foster-carer is beautifully handled." --Guardian

"[A] super talented writer. . . brilliantly written . . . quirky, fun, adorable and bizarre. You'll savor each page of this book." --Company (one of Five Female Authors You Need to Know)