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"Achingly brilliant, an epic made mad, made extraordinary."-Junot Di;az
"Hallucinatory, lyrical, by turns comic and tragic, this extraordinary novel should make Sjón an international name. His evocation of seventeenth century Iceland through the eyes of a man born before his time has stuck in my mind like nothing else I’ve read in the last year."-Hari Kunzru
The year is 1635. Iceland is a world darkened by superstition, poverty, and cruelty.
Men of science marvel over a unicorn's horn, poor folk worship the Virgin in secret, and both books and men are burnt.
Jonas Palmason, a poet and self-taught healer, has been condemned to exile for heretical conduct, having fallen foul of the local magistrate. Banished to a barren island, Jonas recalls his gift for curing "female maladies," his exorcism of a walking corpse on the remote Snjafjoll coast, the frenzied massacre of innocent Basque whalers at the hands of local villagers, and the deaths of three of his children.
Sjón was born in Reykjavik in 1962. He won the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize (the equivalent of the Man Booker Prize) for The Blue Fox, which was also longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2009. Sjón was nominated for an Oscar for the song lyrics he wrote for Björk in the film Dancer in the Dark and has been working on Björk's latest project, Biophilia. His work has been translated into twenty-three languages.