Scroll down for the new Giveaway!
From the Mouth of the Whale by Sjón
Originally published in 2008. English translation by Victoria Cribb published in 2011. Shortlisted for the 2012 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the 2013 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
Where to buy this book:
Buy the book from Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from Speedyhen
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones
I registered this book at Bookcrossing
How I got this book:
Purchased a second-hand copy at Totnes Community Bookshop
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In From The Mouth Of The Whale Sjon blends fact with fiction to produce a bewildering portrait of 1600s Iceland. Genuine historical figure Jon Gudmundsson the Learned really did exist, did marry as astronomer wife and did witness the massacre of Basque whalers. Here he is imagined as Jonas Palmasson, a boy prodigy who becomes a learned man and is ostracised by his community. Outlawed and isolated on a tiny island off Iceland's coast, he must survive as best he can without any help and bereft of his library, but eventually with the company of his wife.
We see the story through Jonas' eyes and it is difficult to tell what is truth, what would have been seen as truth four centuries ago, and what is delusion within Jonas' mind. I was fascinated by scenes such as the devout Catholic village unearthing their banned idols in order to worship them and the text is dotted with short textbook extracts describing the bizarre properties believed of plants and animals. Jumping around in place and time, I was able to piece together Jonas' memories to make sense of his life and the politics of his time. Having visited Iceland, I was easily able to imagine locations such as Thingvallir parliament, but I would have liked more detail in some of the descriptive passages. From The Mouth Of The Whale cleverly brings historic Iceland to life and I would be interested to read more of Sjon's work.
Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Sjon / Historical / Books from Iceland
And now for the Giveaway!
I have a unique handmade Red Beanie Hat to giveaway simply for answering the following question on this blog post. How easy is that?!
Name a book which is set somewhere really cold?
Comment your answer on this post before midnight (UK time) on the 22nd of June to be in with a chance of winning.
I hand crocheted the beanie from a thick sport weight acrylic yarn in a gorgeous red shade. It is even brighter than the photograph makes it appear so this is a really eye-catching hat. The hat is about 6 inches / 16 cm tall and has a 1 inch turn up which can be unturned if an even taller hat is needed. The unstretched inner circumference is about 20 inches / 50 cm and the crocheting means a little stretchiness to ensure a snug and cosy fit. (Other designs of Headwear are for sale through My Blog Shop)
The Giveaway is open worldwide. Answers must be commented by midnight (UK time) on the 22nd June and I will randomly pick a winner on the 23rd. The winner will be notified by replying to their Comment so if you think you might miss this response please also include other contact info such as your blog URL, twitter name or FB page. If the winner does not respond within 7 days, they will forfeit the prize and I will re-offer the hat in another giveaway.