Sjon, Victoria Cribb
‘A book like a blade of light, searching out and illuminating the darkest corners of history . . . It’s vivid, unputdownable, alive, and written with unerring artfulness and subtlety.’ Neel Mukherjee
Gunnar Kampen grows up in Iceland during the Second World War in a household fiercely opposed to Hitler and Nazism. At nineteen he seems set for a conventional, dutiful life. And yet in the spring of 1958, he founds a covert, anti-Semitic nationalist party, a cause that will take him on a clandestine mission to England from which he never returns.
Inspired by one of the ringleaders of a little-known neo-Nazi group that was formed in Iceland in the 1950s, Sjon’s portrait of an ardent fascist is as thought-provoking as it is disturbing. As this taut and fascinating novel suggests, the seeds of extremism can be hard to detect – and the ideology of the far-right remains dangerously potent.
Sjon's policy of omission-of drama, psychology, violence, grandeur of any kind-results in a delicious tension. He tempts us to expect so much of the novel, and though he never provides the relief of clean culminations, he manages to keep the reader wanting. * Asymptote Journal * A slim forensic novel to strike a chill. * Saga * Sjon's prose is appropriately sharp and precise, illuminating the murky corners of his topic. -- Pippa Bailey * New Statesman * This is a landscape proper to a child's imagination, dreamlike but solid, with all the pronounced lucidity and wild agency that objects and colors assume . . . Sjon makes us think again about what empathy can - and frequently enough simply can't - achieve. -- Erica Banks * 4Columns * Like Iceland itself, Sjon's books are simultaneously tiny and huge, weird and normal, ancient and modern. Reading them feels like listening to that story of the beached whale: a wild invention that is actually a straight-faced confession. His books dance - with light, quick steps, never breaking eye contact - all over the line between the mythic and the mundane. -- Sam Anderson * New York Times * What Sjon leaves out of his work is as powerful as what he puts in. His fiction never seems to break into a sweat, yet it takes you a long, long way. * David Mitchell *
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