Icelandic author Sjón Recommends Five Favorite Books
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Born in Reykjavik in 1962, Sjón is an Icelandic novelist. He won the Nordic Council's Literary Prize for his novel The Blue Fox 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 latest novel, just published in English, Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was was awarded the 2013 Icelandic Literary Prize. Also a poet, librettist and lyricist, he has published a number of poetry collections and worked with musicians in various fields of music. Sjón is the president of the Icelandic PEN Center. His novels have been published in thirty five languages.
Mario Bellatin: Jacob the Mutant
Mario Bellatin is one of the most original authors alive. A Peruvian residing in Mexico he writes novels that are shaped like nothing else and never fail to astonish and fill me with envy. Jacob the Mutant is a prime example of his playful intelligence.
Leonora Carrington: The Hearing Trumpet
I first read this amazing surrealist novel as a teenager and have owned and lost or given away quite a number of copies of it. Its final sentence is the only manifesto I have ever needed and it melts my heart every time I come to it: "If the Old Woman can't go to Lapland, then Lapland must come to the Old Woman."
Patrick Modiano: The Search Warrant: Dora Bruder
This heartbreaking novel about the search for the fate of a young Jewish girl, Dora Bruder, lost in Paris during the German occupation, was the first of many novels I have read since then by the calm, deceiving and addictive Modiano.
William Heinesen: The Lost Musicians
Heinesen is the least known of the 20th century masters of Nordic literature. The Lost Musicians may be his magnum opus and should be read by all who love universal tales taking place in the smallest of societies. In this case the place is Torshavn, the capital town of the Faroe Islands, home to a band of brothers seeking beauty through music and art in a world full of hardship and rife with religious intolerance and fanatic teetotalers.
Daniela Hodrova: A Kingdom of Souls
The words 'genius' and 'masterpiece' must be used with restraint but what can one do if a novel compares with the works of both Bruno Schulz and Andrei Tarkovsky? Hodrova's novel about the dead of Prague does and is the most exciting discovery I have made in years.