Fish Have No Feet
By Jón Kalman Stefánsson
An poetic, elemental yet modern Icelandic family saga spanning the whole of Iceland's 20th century history, by the country's most distinguished and distinctive contemporary writer
Longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2017
Keflavik: a town that may be the darkest place in Iceland, surrounded by black lava fields, hemmed in by a sea that may not be fished, and site of the U.S. military base, whose influences shaped Icelandic culture from the '50s to the dawning of the new millennium.
Ari - a writer and publisher - lands back in Keflavik from Copenhagen. His father is dying, and he is flooded by memories of his youth in the '70s and '80s, listening to Pink Floyd and the Beatles, raiding American supply lorries and discovering girls. And one girl he could never forget. Layered through Ari's story is that of his grandparents in a village on the eastern coast, a world away from modern Keflavik. For his grandfather Oddur, life at sea was a destiny; for Margrét its elemental power brings only loneliness and fear.
Both the story of a singular family and an epic that sparkles with love, pain and lifelong desire - with all of human life - Fish have no Feet is a novel of profound beauty and wisdom by a major international writer.
By the author of the acclaimed trilogy, Heaven and Hell, The Sorrow of Angels and The Heart of Man.
Jón Kalman Stefánsson's novels have been nominated three times for the Nordic Council Prize for Literature and his novel Summer Light, and then Comes the Night received the Icelandic Prize for Literature in 2005. In 2011 he was awarded the prestigious P.O. Enquist Award. He is perhaps best known for his trilogy - Heaven and Hell, The Sorrow of Angels (longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize) and The Heart of Man (winner of the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize) - and for Fish Have No Feet (longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2017).
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- Publication date:
25 Aug 2016
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Powerful and sparkling . . . Prize-winning translator Philip Roughton's feather-light touch brings out the gleaming, fairy-tale quality of the writing, making what could be a stereotypically dark Nordic novel an impassioned and lyrical read. In Fish Have No Feet, Stefánsson brings out the history of a place and its people in a way few contemporary writers ever manage. — Nora Mahoney, Irish Times.
Stefánsson's prose - translated with craggy eloquence by Philip Roughton - rolls and surges with oceanic splendour. — Boyd Tonkin, Spectator.
A wonderful, exceptional writer . . . A timeless storyteller — Carsen Jensen
Very powerful — Eileen Battersby, Irish Times