• Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Reading Group Gold
From the Mouth of the Whale - Sjón; Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria CribbSee larger image
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From the Mouth of the Whale



Awards: International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award - Nominee

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About The Author

SjónSjón

Sjón is the author of, among other works, The Blue Fox and The Whispering Muse. Born in Reykjavík in 1962, he is an award-winning novelist, poet, and playwright. His novelshave been translated into twenty-five languages. Also a lyricist, he has written songs for Björk,... More

photo: Krsitinn Ingvarsson

Awards

International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award - Nominee

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Reading Group Gold

Already celebrated far beyond his native Iceland, the novels of Sjón arrive on waves of praise from writers, critics, and readers worldwide. Sjón has won countless international awards and earned ringing comparisons to Borges, Calvino, and Iceland’s other literary superstar, the Nobel Prize winner Halldór Laxness. He possesses a singular literary voice that captivates through evocative images and startling turns of fate. Sjón’s storytelling, which is as inventive as the sagas of his home country, takes us to mythical worlds interwoven with the history of humanity: In The Whispering Muse, readers board a sailing vessel in the aftermath of World War II but find themselves transported to ancient Greece. In The Blue Fox, a hunter’s determination raises questions about his approach to life and the survival of the most vulnerable members of his community. And From the Mouth of the Whale takes us to seventeenth-century Iceland, where persecution and superstition obscure the truths revealed by a compassionate healer. 

     The questions and topics that follow are designed to enhance your experience of these three unique novels. We hope they enrich your reading group’s journeys of mystery and adventure.



1. How is Jónas Pálmason the Learned affected by the promises of Christianity and the power of the Virgin Mary?

 

2. What do the sandpiper and the other seabirds bring to Jónas on Gullbjörn’s Island? How do they serve as more than his muses?

 

3. Ultimately, what made Jónas so threatening to the “serpent brothers”?

 

4. What is at the root of the Reverend Sigurdur Pétursson’s madness? How is his community affected by his choice of fire as his favorite way to purge?

 

5. Is “Wizard-Láfi” Thórólfur Thórdarson effective as he wages war on ghosts?

 

6. What did you discover about Icelandic history as Jónas recounted the interactions with Spanish and Basque mariners?

 

7. How does Jónas make peace with the death of Sigrídur “Sigga” Thórólfsdóttir and their children? Is he living in world where religion offers any solace?

 

8. Discuss the closing scene. How is it different from other whale tales you’ve read?

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