From the Mouth of the Whale

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The year is 1635. Iceland is a world darkened by superstition, poverty and cruelty. Men of science marvel over a unicorn's horn, poor folk worship the Virgin in secret and both books and men are burnt. Jonas Palmason, a poet and self-taught healer, has been condemned to exile for heretical conduct, having fallen foul of the local magistrate. Banished to a barren island, Jonas recalls his exorcism of a walking corpse on the remote Snjafjöll coast, the frenzied massacre of innocent Basque whalers at the hands of local villagers, and the deaths of three of his children. From the Mouth of the Whale is a magical evocation of an enlightened mind and a vanished age. 'Hallucinatory, lyrical, by turns comic and tragic — an extraordinary novel.' Hari Kunzru 'Achingly brilliant, an epic made mad, made extraordinary.' Junot Diaz 'Sjon is a poet, and the aesthetic excitement is his own. He is an extraordinary and original writer. And his translator, Victoria Cribb, is also extraordinary in her rendering of the roughness and the elegance, the clarity and the oddity of this splendid book.' A.S. Byatt, The Guardian 'The narrative is kaleidoscopic and mesmerizing, comic and poignant by turns. Victoria Cribb's translation brilliantly captures these multiple changes in tone and scene.From the Mouth of the Whale should open up a world of Icelandic writing…a world of nature and of ideas, which stands comparison with the Iceland of the Nobel Prize laureate Halldor Laxness.' Carolyne Larrington, Times Literary Supplement 'This is an extraordinarily accomplished novel that challenges and informs the reader in equal measure. Victoria Cribb's superb translation conveys the intricacies of Sjon's language, Jonas's strange turns of phrase, and the novel's meandering narrative.' Independent 'A strange blend of myth and reality, it is a spellbinding book, Sjon using lyrical prose to create an other-worldly universe that sucks the reader in.' Big Issue
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