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The Blue Fox by [Sjon]
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The Blue Fox Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Length: 129 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Review

'Every now and then a writer changes the whole map of literature inside my head. 'The most recent has been the Icelander Sjón, whose work is unlike anything I had read, and very exciting ... I think of Icelanders as erudite, singular, tough, and uncompromising. Sjón is all these things, but he is also quicksilver, playful and surreal ... [Sjón] has changed the way I see things.' --A.S. Byatt, The New York Review of Books


'...in this beautiful, tiny book, Sjón has produced the literary equivalent of a snowflake, a hundred page riff on the literature, landscape and history of Iceland which reads more like an epic poem, albeit with one striking piece of modernity thrown in.' --Sarah Hesketh, Ready Steady Book

A nearly perfect modern myth. --Wall Street Journal

'The Blue Fox describes its world with brilliant, precise, concrete colour and detail...Comic and lyrical.' --A.S. Byatt, The Times

'...in this beautiful, tiny book, Sjón has produced the literary equivalent of a snowflake, a hundred page riff on the literature, landscape and history of Iceland which reads more like an epic poem, albeit with one striking piece of modernity thrown in.' --Sarah Hesketh, Ready Steady Book

A nearly perfect modern myth. --Wall Street Journal
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'The Blue Fox describes its world with brilliant, precise, concrete colour and detail...Comic and lyrical.' --A.S. Byatt, The Times

A nearly perfect modern myth --Wall Street Journal

About the Author

Sjón is a celebrated Icelandic poet and novelist. His novels have been translated into twenty-five languages and include From the Mouth of the Whale and The Whispering Muse (both published by Telegram). Sjón won the Nordic Council Literary Prize, the equivalent of the Man Booker Prize, for The Blue Fox and Best Icelandic Novel for The Whispering Muse in 2005. Also a songwriter, he has written lyrics for Björk, including for her most recent album, Biophilia.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 200 KB
  • Print Length: 129 pages
  • Publisher: Telegram Books (16 Jan. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00753YFRE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #105,614 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book on impulse after receiving it in a recommendation from Amazon. I had never heard of Sjon, but I have a theory that books which are good enough to be translated are worth looking at.

I loved this book. It is beautifully written and equally beautifully translated: "Blue foxes are so curiously like stones that it is a matter for wonder. When they lie beside them in winter there is no hope of telling them apart from the rocks themselves."

It starts as a simple story of a man hunting a blue fox and then expands to the story of a herbalist and a Down's Syndrome girl he adopts.

The descriptions capture the landscape and the tension of the hunt for the blue fox beautifully. The story is as beautiful and brutal as a northern winter. Despite or perhaps because of that brutality I loved the humanity of the book: the portrayal of the herbalist and the girl’s relationship. I recommend this book to you.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sjón is an Icelandic writer, and first and foremost a poet. His novel The Blue Fox is a very slim little volume - barely more than 100 pages. But those pages are so full of magic and beauty and harshness and such a vivid sense of place that I could barely believe the author managed to say so much in so few words. In that sense, and in some of its themes, this book reminds me of Alan Garner's brilliant Thursbitch - and coming from me, that is not a comparison to be taken lightly.

The Blue Fox is the story of a huntsman-priest in 19th century Iceland, Baldur Skuggason, obsessed with hunting the mysterious 'blue fox' or 'skugga-baldur' that roams the snow-covered mountain landscape in the dark days of midwinter. It's also the story of the herbalist Fridrik Fridjonsson and Abba, the horribly abused young Down's Syndrome woman he has taken in and loves like a daughter, helping her to compile a collection of carefully-identified feathers from Iceland's rich and varied bird life as he gradually learns the strange language she has created for herself during her years of neglect. It's the story of life, death, shamanism, landscape and metamorphosis, as the hunter becomes the hunted, human beings become puzzles, and the landscape and language become one and the same.

The Blue Fox could only ever have been written in Iceland, in that unique landscape, that odd mixture of beauty and harshness. Like a Nordic fairytale, it combines magic and brutality, gentleness and violence, the metaphysical and the mundane.

As a young man, studying in Denmark, Fridrik tells his opium-smoking companions: "I have seen the universe; it is made of poems." His Danish friends laugh and tell him he is "a true Icelander" - and they are right. I've been to Iceland, and never before have I ever been so convinced that the universe is, without a doubt, made of poems.
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Format: Paperback
It is 1883 and a man goes foxhunting in the mountains of Iceland, armed with plenty of confidence, wholesome food, and his trusted rifle.

Soon he catches the scent of the fox and starts pursuing it, getting strange vibes and hearing voices which speak of a bond between man, earth, and animal. Voices that let him track the prey effortlessly.

Then a blizzard sets in, the man moves deeper into the hills, and things take an ugly turn which eventually carve away his man suit to lay bare the animal flipside of humanity.

That's about it, really.

Or not.

Framed by the ill-fated foxhunt of Reverend Baldur Skyggeson (whose name it is well worth looking into a little bit...) a second storyline picks up. It is the tale of the burial of Abba, a strange girl who arrived as the only survivor on a huge, shipwrecked Dutch trading vessel years before.

She is buried by Fridrik B. Fridjonsson, the man who has taken care of her through most of her life, and seemingly he is just about the only man who has also respected her as a human being.

Others have hurried to put her Down's Syndrome into an evolutionary classification system where she ends up somewhere after negro and before indians - and far from white men.

The system goes like this: Fish-reptile-bird-dog-monkey-negro-asian-indian-white, with the "asian" category also containing those with Down's Syndrome since their evolution in the mother's womb most have somehow halted at this stage after which they we born. Cute...

Kids like that are usually killed in Iceland anno 1883. But Abba has survived, and to cut to the chase without too many spoilers: her existence links together the two storyline in a very subtle but important way.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This Icelandic novella from Bjork's longtime co-writer is a mystical tale of two halves. First we have the tale of man versus cunning vixen as the parson goes out into the winter to hunt a rare blue fox. This is told in short bursts as a battle of minds that veers into mystical fairy tale territory as an avalanche entraps the hunter and the hunted. The other half tells how a naturalist and a girl, Abba, with Downs syndrome rescue each other, and of Fridrik's coping with her death. The mystery of where she comes from is gradually revealed as the two stories come together.

A poetic little novel that will certainly appeal to fans of Icelandic great Halldor Laxness.
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