A majestic, breathtaking novel by one of Iceland's greatest writers: 'an extraordinary and original writer' - AS Byatt
'A masterpiece . . . I challenge any author to top it!' Sigridur Alberstsdottir, Icelandic National Broadcasting Service.
Jósef Loewe can recall the moment of his birth in August, 1962 and everything that has happened since - or so he claims to the woman listening to the tale of his life . . .
A love story
He begins with his father, Leo, a starving Jewish fugitive in World War II Germany. In a small-town guesthouse, Leo discovers a kindred spirit in the maid who nurses him back to health; together they shape a piece of clay into a baby.
A crime story
Leo escapes to Iceland with the clay boy inside a hatbox, only to become embroiled in a murder mystery. It is not until 1962 that his son Jósef can be born.
A science-fiction story
In modern-day Reykjavík, a middle-aged Jósef attracts the interest of a rapacious geneticist. Now, what lies behind Jósef's tale emerges. And as the story of genesis comes full circle, we glimpse the dangerous path ahead for humankind.
In this epic novel, Sjón has woven ancient and modern material into a singular masterpiece - encompassing genre fiction, history, theology, folklore, expressionist film, poetry, comic strips, myth, drama and, of course, the rich tradition of Icelandic storytelling.
Born in Reykjavík in 1962, Sjón is an Icelandic writer whose novels The Blue Fox, The Whispering Muse, From the Mouth of the Whale and Moonstone have been translated into thirty-five languages. He has won several awards including the Nordic Council's Literature Prize for The Blue Fox and has also been shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, while Moonstone won the Icelandic Literary Prize and the Icelandic Booksellers' prize for Novel of the Year. Sjón has also published nine poetry collections, written four opera librettos as well as lyrics for various artists, and was nominated for an Oscar for his lyrics in the film Dancer in the Dark. In 2017, Sjón became the third writer - following Margaret Atwood and David Mitchell - to contribute to Future Library, a public artwork based in Norway spanning 100 years. He lives in Reykjavík, Iceland.
Victoria Cribb has translated more than twenty-five books by Icelandic authors. Her translation of Moonstone was long-listed for the Best Translated Book Award and the PEN America Translation Prize in 2016. In 2017 she received the Orðstír honorary translation award for services to Icelandic literature.
- Other details
- Publication date:
26 Jul 2018
- Page count:
Sjón is a raconteur of talent. He can flick from angelic frolics to seedy violence as if each tale were a smooth refraction of the last. He has a knack for high comedy, too. ... Victoria Cribb deserves equal praise for bringing all this zest into English so well. — Cal Revely-Calder, The Daily Telegraph
Sjón's novels are brilliant collisions of history and fable, psychology and fantasy — Chris Power, Guardian
Sjón's books read like modern-day fairy tales — The Culture Trip
Beguiling, surpassingly eccentric . . . Though occasionally reminiscent of David Mitchell, Sjón's work is unlike anything else in contemporary fiction. Strange - but stunning — Kirkus
Sure to delight the reader . . . irresistibly sweeps the reader away . . . a masterpiece, meticulously executed from the first page to the last — Sigridur Albertsdottir, National Broadcasting Service Iceland
Dazzlingly funny and entertaining in sections, dramatic and tragic, light and serious, woven with the artistry we recognise in Sjón's other work ... he creates with his inexhaustible imagination a gorgeous and relevant ending — Fridrika Benonysdottir, Frettabladid
Sjón is one of our era's great writers. Like Ovid, Kafka, and Bulgakov, he is fascinated by metamorphosis and, from apparently limitless resources of the imagination, can convey what it must feel like — Charles Baxter, Nation
An extraordinary and original writer — A.S. Byatt
Iceland's literary spell-binder ... A tantalising smoke of marvel and magic drifts through Sjón's work — Boyd Tonkin, Economist 1843
This is a work of great ambition ... above all it feels like a work of virtuoso narrative for its own sake; an Icelandic 1001 Nights. — The Sunday Times
... bewitching ... His stories compound the dreamscapes of Surrealism, the marvels of Icelandic folklore and a pop-culture sensibility into free-form fables. Call it magic realism under Nordic lights. ... Sjón's finale anchors his ingenuity to a moving plea for solidarity Hrolfur, the entrepreneurial geneticist, yearns to "soar heavenwards into a world where imagination is the only law of nature that matters". CoDex 1962 applauds the aim, but distrusts his means and motive. The wild flight remains a mission not for scientists but for story-tellers. — The Economist