Sjòn's Moonstone is a marvel of a novel, queer in every sense of the word - an impeccable little gem
I always enjoy Sjón's books, but Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was is an experience like no other. The author confronts his own limits, and raises the bar for the reader too. His portrayal of Reykjavik in 1918 is magical. The scene where a movie theatre falls silent, because all the musicians have succumbed to an outbreak of Spanish flu, is marvellous and very amusing. The novel has given me my best reading experience this year.
MOONSTONE is Sjón's slim, simmering masterpiece. Vibrant and visceral, briskly paced but meditative, unsettling yet droll and flecked with beauty, it is a pitch-perfect study of transgression, survival and love.
A work of miniaturist perfection: a brief, brilliant jewel of a book in which each paragraph is precision-cut, each sentence burnished.
Sjón's prose is never histrionic or overwrought, balancing rage and hallucination . . . with a gentleness of spirit, an affection for precision and the small scale. The result is sure to delight his fans and convert many new ones.
Moonstone takes its place among the great works of literature that have documented life during the Spanish-flu epidemic . . . 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.
When the meaning of the book's subtitle is finally explained, the effect is powerful. MOONSTONE is about human decency, courage and respect for the individual. It is a small book with a large heart.
Tender, elegiac and occasionally surreal
A magical book, the work of a great illusionist. You see the historical moment unfurl, luminous with desire and imagination and the flames of an erupting volcano, dark with repression, disease and death. You see it all through the poetic, poignant images of Máni Steinn's story. And then in a final flourish you see it all vanish in a way that makes it unforgettable.