Books Of The Year #3: From The Mouth Of The Whale

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December 18, 2012 by markstani

It says: The year is 1635. 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.

I say: The beauty of this book lies in the author’s splendid excavation of Icelandic history and legend; in his evocation of his nation’s untamed natural wonders; in his damning indictment of religious doctrine; in his heady blend of hallucination and tumultuous picaresque. It is a book of stunning originality and profound oddity… a book worthy of winning any prize.

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One thought on “Books Of The Year #3: From The Mouth Of The Whale

  1. Tony says:

    It would have taken a great book to beat this to the IFFP…

    …oh.

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