Thordis Elva

Thordis Elva (b. 1980) is a writer, journalist, public speaker and Woman of the Year 2015 in Iceland. Her book about gender-based violence, Á mannamáli (The Plain Truth) was one of the most awarded Icelandic books of 2009, earning her a nomination to the Icelandic Literature Prize.

Photo: Sigtryggur Ari Johannsson 


South of Forgiveness

It wasn’t without fear that Thordis Elva kissed her three-year-old son and her loving partner goodbye before boarding a plane in Reykjavik, Iceland on March 27, 2013. The aim was to fly almost across the planet, meet up with the man who raped her when she was sixteen – and forgive him.

Meanwhile in Sydney, Australia; Thomas Stranger, nervously boarded a plane, wondering if he was worthy of this meeting. Is healing possible if you can’t fathom forgiving yourself?

This journey was not planned in haste. It was the careful result of a written correspondence that had lasted eight years. After covering hundreds of letters with searing honesty in a dialogue between survivor and perpetrator, they decided it was time to see each other face to face.

Coming from opposite sides of the globe, their destination was literally middle ground; which happened to be South Africa, known as the “rape capital of the world” due to endemic levels of sexual violence. It’s a country deeply scarred by apartheid, bravely seeking to heal the wounds from its past. A powerful backdrop, where their lives will be permanently changed.

The story is a non-fiction narrative written under full names and credentials in a unique collaboration between survivor and perpetrator equally committed to shedding light into the dark corners of humanity. It’s a true story about being bent but not broken, of facing fear with courage and finding hope even in the most wounded of places.

Thordis Elva & Tom Stranger

Original title:
South of Forgiveness

February 2017


Original publisher:

Reading material:
Swedish and English manuscript (final)

305 pp.

France/Editions Nova
Germany/Droemer Knaur
Japan/Harper Collins JP
The Netherlands/Harper Collins NL
Poland/Czarna Owca
South Korea/Chaek-Se-Sang


“Hats off to Elva and Stranger for a brave journey that might well change lives.”

the sunday times


“A book written with great empathy, and the authors’ courage is remarkable.”

svenska dagbladet