The Whispering Muse: A Novel (Paperback)
"Sublime . . . A work of coy humor and shape-shifting magic ." —The Wall Street Journal
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.
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.
Born in Reykjavík in 1962, Sjón is the author of the novels The Blue Fox, The Whispering Muse, From the Mouth of the Whale, Moonstone, and CoDex 1962, for which he won several awards, including the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize and the Icelandic Literary Prize. He has also been short-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, and his work has been translated into thirty-five languages.
In addition, Sjón has written more than seven poetry collections, several opera librettos, and lyrics for various artists, including Björk. He was nominated for an Oscar for his lyrics in Dancer in the Dark, and he cowrote the script of the film The Northman with its director, Robert Eggers. In 2017 he became the third writer – following Margaret Atwood and David Mitchell – to contribute to Future Library, a public artwork based in Norway spanning one hundred years.
He lives in Reykjavík, Iceland.
“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