The Whispering Muse (Paperback)
You have no excuse not to read this book. It is the strongest of Sjón's three recently translated novels (The Blue Fox, From the Mouth of the Whale), though all are worth reading. Sjón navigatse Greek and Icelandic myth to create a beautiful, poetic tale of epic heros after their quests have long since ended. Great if you like Neil Gaiman, Gabriel García Márquez, or Anne Carson.
-- Cody— From Cody M. Staff Picks
"Sublime . . . A work of coy humor and shape-shifting magic ." --The Wall Street Journal
Sjon's novels have been championed by a veritable pantheon of literary luminaries: Junot Diaz, David Mitchell, A. S. Byatt, Hari Kunzru, and Alberto Manguel, who calls The Whispering Muse "an extraordinary, powerful fable--a marvel." The Whispering Muse is Sjon's masterpiece so far.
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 extraordinary 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.
About the Author
Sjon 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 Bjork, 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.
“The Whispering Muse is a quirky, melodic, ticklish, seamlessly translated, lovingly polished gem of a novel.” —David Mitchell
“An extraordinary, powerful fable—a marvel.” —Alberto Manguel
“Sjón is the trickster that makes the world, and he is achingly brilliant.” —Junot Díaz
“When I need something epic and lyrical I call upon Sjón.” —Björk
“Sjón’s writing [is] full of brilliant details, surprises and delights . . . [He is] an extraordinary and original writer.” —A. S. Byatt, The Guardian