Things Are Going Great is a comic and grotesque novel that tells the story of Ragga Birna, an Icelandic wannabe musician, singer, and finally actress. It’s an ironic take on “the rise and rise” autobiography of the small time celebrity: Ragga’s story is intercepted regularly by her own self-deceptive comments. Throughout the recounting of one disaster upon another, Ragga Birna maintains her fierce optimism and sees all her failures in the best of lights. Though written as a cynical comedy, the book is tragic in its heart: It’s the story of a woman who sacrifices everything in trying “to make it”, even though she is utterly talentless.
Things Are Going Great was written in the years between 1992 and 1994, in Paris and Reykjavik. It was Hallgrimur’s breakthrough as a writer. He had found his voice and proved he could write a “big” novel. The reviews were mostly good, and though some people had problems with the baroque style of 100 WPM (Words Per Minute), others dubbed it one of “the funniest novels of Icelandic literature”. A stage-adaptation of the novel by Baltasar Kormákur was produced by the Icelandic National Theatre in 2004 to great acclaim and popularity.