The Whispering Muse
Publication Date: April 30, 2013
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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.
Sjón is the author of, among other works, The Blue Fox and From the Mouth of the Whale. Born in Reykjavík in 1962, he is an awardwinning novelist, poet, and playwright, and his novels have been translated into twenty-five languages. He is the president of the Icelandic PEN Centre and chairman of the board of Reykjavík 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 Reykjavík.
“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