Author(s): Sjón; Victoria Cribb (Translator)
The mind-bending miniature historical epic is Sj n's specialty, and Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was is no exception. But it is also Sj n's most realistic, accessible, and heartfelt work yet. It is the story of a young man on the fringes of a society that is itself at the fringes of the world--at what seems like history's most tumultuous, perhaps ultimate moment.
M ni Steinn is queer in a society in which the idea of homosexuality is beyond the furthest extreme. His city, Reykjavik in 1918, is homogeneous and isolated and seems entirely defenseless against the Spanish flu, which has already torn through Europe, Asia, and North America and is now lapping up on Iceland's shores. And if the flu doesn't do it, there's always the threat that war will spread all the way north. And yet the outside world has also brought Icelanders cinema And there's nothing like a dark, silent room with a film from Europe flickering on the screen to help you escape from the overwhelming threats--and adventures--of the night, to transport you, to make you feel like everything is going to be all right. For M ni Steinn, the question is whether, at Reykjavik's darkest hour, he should retreat all the way into this imaginary world, or if he should engage with the society that has so soundly rejected him.
Sjon's prose is never histrionic or overwrought, balancing rage and hallucination ... with a gentleness of spirit, an affection for precision and the small scale. The result is sure to delight his fans and convert many new ones. -- Hari Kunzru Guardian MOONSTONE is Sjon's slim, simmering masterpiece. Vibrant and visceral, briskly paced but meditative, unsettling yet droll and flecked with beauty, it is a pitch-perfect study of transgression, survival and love. David Mitchell A work of miniaturist perfection: a brief, brilliant jewel of a book in which each paragraph is precision-cut, each sentence burnished. -- Sarah Crown Guardian I always enjoy Sjon's books, but Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was is an experience like no other. The author confronts his own limits, and raises the bar for the reader too. His portrayal of Reykjavik in 1918 is magical. The scene where a movie theatre falls silent, because all the musicians have succumbed to an outbreak of Spanish flu, is marvellous and very amusing. The novel has given me my best reading experience this year. -- Eka Kurniawan Best Books of 2016, Financial Times Tender, elegiac and occasionally surreal -- Angel Gurria-Quintana Financial Times, Summer Books When the meaning of the book's subtitle is finally explained, the effect is powerful. MOONSTONE is about human decency, courage and respect for the individual. It is a small book with a large heart. -- Chris Power New Statesman A magical book, the work of a great illusionist. You see the historical moment unfurl, luminous with desire and imagination and the flames of an erupting volcano, dark with repression, disease and death. You see it all through the poetic, poignant images of Mani Steinn's story. And then in a final flourish you see it all vanish in a way that makes it unforgettable. Adam Foulds Sjon's Moonstone is a marvel of a novel, queer in every sense of the word - an impeccable little gem Rabih Alameddine
Born in Reykjavik in 1962, Sjon is a celebrated Icelandic author. 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. Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was was awarded the 2013 Icelandic Literary Prize. Also a poet, librettist and lyricist, he has worked with his countrywoman Bjork, written three operas and published eleven volumes of poetry. His novels have been translated into thirty languages. He lives in Reykjavik with his wife and two children.