This beautiful little book arrived in my postbox earlier this week and I couldn’t take my eyes off it, and so decided to sit down and enjoy it in one sitting.
Máni Stein Karlsson, a sex worker who sees male clients, spends his days in Reykavik avidly watching the best of cinema and admiring the beautiful leather-clad motorbike-riding Sola G-, clutching at her lost bright red scarf.
The year is 1918 and Spanish Flu strikes the town, and so everything begins to change. The cinemas fall abandoned, the streets become emptied as disaster strikes and people die, leading Máni to work as an assistant to the few overworked doctors treating the influenza epidemic.
This is a beautiful novel that captures Iceland in the wake of a volcano eruption and complete devastation of a community. It has a gentle melancholy that reminds me ever so of Stoner by John Williams or A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler.
While Máni is a fictional character, it is clear that this novel is from a personal place. At the climax, it is revealed to be linked to Sigurjón Birgir Sigurðsson’s (whose pen name is Sjón, meaning sight) own life.
A short novel at around 140 pages, this book really touched me and I look forward to reading more works by Sjón.
Interested? Get it here.
What to read next:
Thank you ever so much to Sceptre for sending me a copy of Moonstone.