Nominated by:

Reykjavík City Library, Iceland

Publisher of nominated edition:

Sceptre, UK

Moonstone – the boy who never was

Sjón    

Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb

The year is 1918 and in Iceland the erupting volcano Katla can be seen colouring the sky night and day from the streets of Reykjavik. Yet life in the small capital carries on as usual, despite the natural disaster, a shortage of coal and, in the outside world, the Great War grinding on.

There, sixteen-year-old Máni Steinn lives for the new fashion – the movies. Asleep he dreams altered versions of them, their tapestry of events threaded with strands from his own life. Awake he hovers on the fringes of society. But then the Spanish flu epidemic comes ashore, killing hundreds and driving thousands into their sick beds. The shadows of existence deepen and for Máni everything changes.

Capturing Iceland at a moment of profound transformation, this is the story of a misfit in a place where life and death, reality and imagination, secrets and revelations jostle for dominance. With not a word wasted, this mesmerising and original novel is the work of a major international writer.

About the author

Born in Reykjavik in 1962, Sjón is a celebrated Icelandic author. He won the Nordic Council’s Literary Prize for his novel The Blue Fox and the novel From The Mouth Of The Whale was shortlisted for both the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was was awarded the 2013 Icelandic Literary Prize. Also a poet, librettist and lyricist, he has worked with his countrywoman Björk, written three operas and published eleven volumes of poetry. His novels have been translated into thirty languages. He lives in Reykjavik with his wife and two children.

(from publisher)

Librarian’s comments

A short, sharp historical novel set in 1918, Moonstone is a story of Cinemania, pox, natural disaster and national sovereignty as experienced by a gay, strange????? teenager. Sjón’s storytelling is nimble and ruthless, the story itself frankly romantic.

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