Fish Have No Feet
By Jón Kalman Stefánsson
Read by Saul Reichlin
A 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
Keflavik: a town that has been called the darkest place in Iceland, surrounded by black lava fields, hemmed in by a sea that may not be fished. Its livelihood depends entirely on a U.S. military base, a conduit for American influences that shaped Icelandic culture and ethics from the 1950s to the dawning of the new millennium.
It is to Keflavik that Ari - a writer and publisher - returns from Copenhagen at the behest of his dying father, two years after walking out on his wife and children. He is beset by memories of his youth, spent or misspent listening to Pink Floyd and the Beatles, fraternising with American servicemen - who are regarded by the locals with a mixture of admiration and contempt - and discovering girls. There is one girl in particular he could never forget - her fate has stayed with him all his life.
Lost in grief and nostalgia, he is also caught up in the story of how his grandparents fell in love in Nordfjordur on the eastern coast, a fishing village a world away from modern Keflavik, at time when the old ways still held sway. Their tragic love affair unfolded against the backdrop of Iceland's harsh nature and unforgiving elements.
Fish have no Feet is at once the story of a singular family and an epic of Icelandic history and culture. It offers an unique insight into modern Iceland, and the ways in which it has been shaped by outside influences. A sparkling novel of love, pain, loss and lifelong desire that marries the poetic, elemental style of Heaven and Hell, The Sorrow of Angels and The Heart of Man to a modern frame of reference and sensibility.
(P)2016 W F Howes Ltd
- Other details
- Publication date:
25 Aug 2016
- Page count:
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