'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
Josef Loewe can recall the moment of his birth in August, 1962 and everything that has happened since - or so he claims to the woman listening to the tale of his life . . .A love story
He begins with his father, Leo, a starving Jewish fugitive in World War II Germany. In a small-town guesthouse, Leo discovers a kindred spirit in the maid who nurses him back to health; together they shape a piece of clay into a baby. A crime story
Leo escapes to Iceland with the clay boy inside a hatbox, only to become embroiled in a murder mystery. It is not until 1962 that his son Josef can be born. A science-fiction story
In modern-day Reykjavik, a middle-aged Josef attracts the interest of a rapacious geneticist. Now, what lies behind Josef's tale emerges. And as the story of genesis comes full circle, we glimpse the dangerous path ahead for humankind.
In this epic novel, Sjon has woven ancient and modern material into a singular masterpiece - encompassing genre fiction, history, theology, folklore, expressionist film, poetry, comic strips, myth, drama and, of course, the rich tradition of Icelandic storytelling.
One blindingly beautiful section comprises a list of surrealist images, the nightly dreams of a group of townspeople . . . This book is a Norse Arabian Nights. Each section is a honeycomb. Stories are nested in stories and crack open to reveal rumour and anecdote, prose poems, tendrils of myth. This abundance isn't an empty show of virtuosity but rooted in Sjon's belief in the power and obligation of old-fashioned storytelling . . . [It] 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
Sjon is a raconteur of talent. He can flick from angelic frolics to seedy violence as if each tale were a smooth refraction of the last. He has a knack for high comedy, too. ... Victoria Cribb deserves equal praise for bringing all this zest into English so well. - The Daily Telegraph
The Icelandic literary maverick and Oscar-nominated songwriter Sjon writes with a poet's ear and a musician's natural sense of rhythm. This extraordinary performance . . . sets out to entertain, but also to prod the reader towards a stark realisation of human mortality and the games fate plays. - Guardian, Book of the Day
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
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
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 . . . Sjon's finale anchors his ingenuity to a moving plea for solidarity Hrolfur, the entrepreneurial geneticist, yearns to "soar heavenwards into a world where imagination is the only law of nature that matters". CoDex 1962
applauds the aim, but distrusts his means and motive. The wild flight remains a mission not for scientists but for story-tellers. - The Economist
Sure to delight the reader . . . irresistibly sweeps the reader away . . . a masterpiece, meticulously executed from the first page to the last - National Broadcasting Service Iceland
Sjon's novels are brilliant collisions of history and fable, psychology and fantasy - Guardian