2013 Shortlist

From the Mouth of the Whale


Translated from the original Icelandic by Victoria Cribb

2013 Shortlist

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 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. From the Mouth of the Whale is a magical evocation of an enlightened mind and a vanished age.

(From Publisher)

About the Author

Sjón was born in Reykjavik in 1962. Poet, novelist and playwright, he has received numerous literary awards, including the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize for The Blue Fox, which was also longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2009.

He was nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a Brit Award for the music, which he collaborated on with Bjork, for Dancer In The Dark. From the Mouth of the Whale is his second novel to be published by Telegram. His work has been translated into twenty-two languages.

Librarians’ Comments

From the Mouth of the Whale is a powerful and poignant artistic idiom of Iceland. It masterly evokes the very fabric of narration; its combination of subtle poetic vision and grotesque naturalistic metaphor in presenting the basic unity of time, space, nature and human existence.

The book is a beautifully structured historical novel, exploring the idea space of the pre-enlightenment renaissance with thoughtful voracity and a rational appreciation for the fantastic.



Telegram Books


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