‘The Blue Fox’ by Sjón **** (Book Club, October 2013)

I have had my eye on this beautiful looking novella for such a long time, and thought that it would be a wonderful book to discuss as part of our book club here at The Literary Sisters.  The Blue Fox, first published in 2003, is a novella written by Icelandic poet, novelist and lyricist Sigurjón Birgir Sigurðsson.  His pen name, Sjón, means ‘sight’.

'The Blue Fox' by Sjon

‘The Blue Fox’ by Sjon

This is the second of Sjón’s novels which I’ve read, and I am saddened that I was a little disappointed with The Whispering Muse, first published in his native Iceland in 2005 and read by me earlier this year.  Whilst the novel had an interesting storyline, and its mixture of mythology and the focus placed upon its protagonist’s obsession with fish consumption was done well, I felt that its execution, particularly with regard to the ending, was rather abrupt and underdeveloped. I had high hopes of The Blue Fox regardless.

The story in The Blue Fox is a relatively simple one.  A man somewhere in the midst of wild and remote Scandinavia is trying to hunt a blue fox.  The tale meanders from this foxhunt to a funeral and then travels onward, encompassing themes such as loneliness and disability as it goes.

The entirety of The Blue Fox is so beautifully written.  I loved the way in which the text was broken up throughout, with small sections of the story separated from what comes before and after.  The storyline which was threaded throughout connected every single tiny detail of the plot.  Along with the lovely poetic quality which Sjón has woven, there is a definite darkness to the story.  The sense of place which Sjón creates is stunning, and it was certainly my favourite element of the entire novella.  He conjures the landscape deftly, leaving his reader shivering in the Icelandic snow along with his characters.

The Blue Fox is an odd tale but a memorable one, and one which I would highly recommend to anyone with an interest in nature, Scandinavia, beautiful writing and Icelandic fiction.

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