Sunday, February 17, 2019

Sjón's ten favorite books

Born in Reykjavik in 1962, Sjón is a celebrated Icelandic novelist. He won the Nordic Council's Literary Prize for his novel The Blue Fox (the Nordic countries' equivalent of the Man Booker Prize) and the novel From The Mouth Of The Whale was shortlisted for both the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. His novel Moonstone – The Boy Who Never Was was awarded every Icelandic literature prize, among them the 2013 Icelandic Literary Prize. His latest published work is the definite edition of the trilogy CoDex 1962.

One of his ten favorite books, as shared at
The Fish Can Sing by Halldór Laxness

Set in Reykjavík at the turn of the 20th century, this novel has a Chaplin-esque quality in its celebration of how the good values of society are to be found among those clinging to its lowest rung. Álfgrímur is an orphan living with an old couple who have opened their small farm to the misfits and the meek. A nearby graveyard becomes the boy’s playground, and it is there he is discovered to have “the pure tone” while singing at funerals of the lost and lonesome. From their gravesides he goes into the world to become a singer. It is my favorite book by Laxness, not least because it is his attempt to understand why someone like himself, born in a town of 10,000 people, found the right melody to transform the stories of a small world into world literature.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Fish Can Sing is among David Mitchell's six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue