Much like The Blue Fox, Sjón's The Whispering Muse is possessed of qualities that linger long after the novel has concluded. Combining elements of Greek mythology with modern storytelling (as well as incorporating his grandfather's fascination with Icelandic and Nordic fish consumption), The Whispering Muse is a lyrical, imaginative work. Set mostly upon a merchant ship in the spring of 1949, the crew is regaled nightly by the astonishing tales of mate Caeneus's adventures sailing with Jason and the Argonauts. There is a quiet beauty and simplicity to Sjón's writing, but his novel is hardly a disposable affair. The Whispering Muse's undulous, dual narratives are charming and seamlessly intertwined, while Sjón winningly blends his twin influences of the contemporary and the classical. Recommended By Jeremy G., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Sjón is one of the world's great writers. His work has been championed by the likes of Junot Díaz, David Mitchell, Björk, A. S. Byatt, Hari Kunzru, Michel Faber, and Alberto Manguel, who calls The Whispering Muse
“an extraordinary, powerful fable — a marvel.” He is Iceland's greatest living novelist, and The Whispering Muse
is the book that will push him firmly into the international literary spotlight.
The year is 1949 and Valdimar Haraldsson, an eccentric Icelander with elevated ideas about the influence of fish consumption on Nordic civilization, has had the singular good fortune to be invited to join a Danish merchant ship on its way to the Black Sea. Among the crew is the mythical hero Caeneus, disguised as the second mate. Every evening after dinner he entrances his fellow travelers with the tale of how he sailed with the fabled vessel the Argo on the Argonauts quest to retrieve the Golden Fleece.
What unfolds is a slender, brilliant, always entertaining novel that evokes Borges and Calvino as it weaves together tales of myth and antiquity with the modern world in a literary voice so singular as to seem possessed.
“A quirky, melodic, ticklish, seamlessly translated, lovingly polished gem of a novel.” David Mitchell
About the Author
Sjón was born in Reykjavik in 1962. He is an award-winning novelist, poet, and playwright, and his novels have been translated into twenty-five languages. He is the president of the Icelandic PEN Centre and the chairman of the board of Reykjavik UNESCO City of Literature. Also a lyricist, he has written songs for Björk, including for her most recent project, Biophilia
, and was nominated for an Oscar for the lyrics he cowrote (with Lars von Trier) for Dancer in the Dark
. He lives in Reykjavik.
FSG is publishing Sjón's novels The Blue Fox and From the Mouth of the Whale in paperback alongside the hardcover publication of The Whispering Muse.