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The Whispering Muse

A Novel

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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. The Whispering Muse is his 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 its quest to retrieve the Golden Fleece.

What unfolds is a slender but masterful, brilliant, and always entertaining novel that ranges deftly from the comic to the mythic as it weaves together tales of antiquity with the modern world in a voice so singular as to seem possessed.

BOOK EXCERPTS

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I
 
 
I, Valdimar Haraldsson, was in my twenty-seventh year when I embarked on the publication of a small journal devoted to my chief preoccupation, the link between fish consumption and the superiority of the Nordic race. It was written in Danish, under the title Fisk og Kultur, and came out in seventeen volumes over the space of twenty years. During the First World War, publication was suspended for two years—and the sixth and seventh volumes were only half complete, i.e., only two issues each, as fate decreed that following the death of my first wife I was confined to
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MEDIA

Watch

  • Sjón in conversation with Hari Kunzru; Introduction by Björk

    Sjón’s novels have been championed by a veritable pantheon of literary luminaries: Junot Díaz, 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 Sjón’s masterpiece so far.

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REVIEWS

Praise for The Whispering Muse

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

 

In the Press

Work in Progress » Blog Archive » Björk Introduces Sjón
Scandinavia House, The Nordic Center in America, 2013 Dear friends, I'd like to introduce a dear friend of mine, Sjón. I met him first when I was sixteen. With others he had started the first and only surrealist movement in Iceland, a group of six or so members called Medúsa. I was in a punk band at the time.
- FSG's Work in Progress
Work in Progress » Blog Archive » Sjón & Hari Kunzru
Authors in Conversation A heartfelt introduction by Björk is a hard act to follow. But when Sjón and Hari Kunzru took the stage at Scandinavia House, The Nordic Center of America, they pulled out all the stops: David Bowie, the Sex Pis...
- FSG's Work in Progress

Reviews from Goodreads

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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.
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The Whispering Muse

A Novel

The Globe Books 100

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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