History. A Mess.
by Sigrún Pálsdóttir

Translated from Icelandic by Lytton Smith

A young PhD student believes she has uncovered the first professional female artist in Britain. It’s a discovery that could transform her career and reputation. However, in her haste to break new ground, she has made a simple mistake which threatens everything – and she won’t acknowledge her error until it’s far too late. As she goes to ever greater lengths to protect her work from the truth, she begins to lose her grip on her thesis, her life and ultimately her sanity.

‘Pálsdóttir writes with the hand of a mystery author and the mind of a postmodernist, teasing out her protagonist’s problem while playing with literary forms, fragmenting timelines, and injecting fierce irony.’

– Publishers Weekly

An award-winning independent publisher of new voices and great books from around the world.

‘The foreign literature specialist.’

The Sunday Times

‘A class act.’

The Guardian


Every year Peirene publishes three novellas in translation and sends them directly to subscribers. We search high and low for the most exciting voices from around the world, and introduce them to English-language readers. Subscribe now to get our new books 6-8 weeks before publication and to support independent publishing. We offer two different types of subscription – our standard subscription and a one year gift subscription, perfect for that surprise gift for a loved one.

Get it first

All our books are sent to subscribers 6-8 weeks before publication. You also receive free UK shipping on every subscription book and 15% off all further purchases.

Read more widely

We select the best writers and stories from around the world and publish them in English translation for curious readers. 

Proudly Independent

We rely on our subscribers to sustain our work. Their commitment empowers us to make bold editorial choices and plans for the future.


Find out about new book releases, upcoming events and the latest news and special offers by joining our mailing list.

Sign up today and receive 10% off your next order!

Translation Prize

The 2023 Peirene Stevns Prize is now open to translators from German to English.

The Peirene Stevns translation prize was established in 2018, with the generous support of Martha Stevns, to provide opportunities for emerging translators. The prize winner receives a £3,800 commission, a translation retreat in the French Pyrenees, and a mentorship from an established literary translator.