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Red Milk

Sjon

9 Reviews

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Historical fiction

By the internationally acclaimed Icelandic writer Sjon, a timely novel about a young neo-Nazi in post-WWII Iceland and the roots of the far-right global networks of today.

'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.

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Praise for Red Milk

  • 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

  • SELECT PRAISE FOR CoDex 1962:

  • 'This is a work of great ambition ... above all it feels like a work of virtuoso narrative for its own sake; an Icelandic 1001 Nights' - The Sunday Times

  • Sjon writes with a poet's ear and a musician's natural sense of rhythm . . . has mastered (Gunter Grass)'s technique of merging history with high-speed comedy and surreal profundity . . . an heir of Mikhail Bulgakov and Laurence Sterne, eases literary references into the text as mere suggestions . . . His wild, subversive imagination is among his great strengths - Guardian

  • Bewitching . . . His stories compound the dreamscapes of Surrealism, the marvels of Icelandic folklore and a pop-culture sensibility into free-form fables. Call it magic realism under Nordic lights - The Economist

  • [CoDex 1962] consumed me for the better part of a week. I can only echo Loewe, with gratitude, exasperation and awe. "This book's a bloody thief of time." - New York Times

  • This book is psychedelic, it's potent and it wants to consume the whole world . . . Sjon is a prodigal storyteller in all senses of the phrase . . . he is a master of atmosphere, a fine observer of the cross-hatchings of human motivation and a vivid noticer of detail. - New York Times Book Review

  • Sjon's novels are brilliant collisions of history and fable, psychology and fantasy - Guardian

  • Sjon is one of our era's great writers. Like Ovid, Kafka, and Bulgakov, he is fascinated by metamorphosis and, from apparently limitless resources of the imagination, can convey what it must feel like. - The Nation

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Sjon

Born in Reykjavik in 1962, Sjon is the author of the novels The Blue Fox, The Whispering Muse, From the Mouth of the Whale, Moonstone, CoDex 1962 and Red Milk, for which he has won several prizes including the Nordic Council's Literature Prize and the Icelandic Literary Prize. He has also been shortlisted 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, Sjon has written nine poetry collections as well as four opera librettos and lyrics for various artists. He was nominated for an Oscar for his lyrics in the film Dancer in the Dark. In 2017, Sjon became the third writer - following Margaret Atwood and David Mitchell - to contribute to Future Library, a public artwork based in Norway spanning a hundred years.

Sjon lives in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Victoria Cribb has translated more than twenty-five books by Icelandic authors. Her translation of Moonstone was longlisted for the Best Translated Book Award and the PEN America Translation Prize in 2016. In 2017 she received the Ordstir honorary translation award for services to Icelandic literature.

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