2005
Sjón
1962
2012

2005 Sjón, Iceland: Skugga-Baldur

About the author

Sjón (1962 - ) - Iceland

Sjón, original name Sigurjón Birgir Sigurðsson, was born in Iceland, making his literary debut already at the age of 16 with his first collection of poems, later followed by another seven. He has written five novels as well as songs for Icelandic singer Björk.

About the winning piece

Skugga-Baldur (The Blue Fox)

Published by: Bjartur
Publication year: 2005

The Blue Fox is a novel about an Icelandic pastor and a fox hunt. Sjón makes use of the Icelandic folktale to tell his story. One of the principal characters is the pastor Baldur Skuggason. He has an evil, dark side to his character. Another key figure is the strange offspring of a cat and a fox following the story – Sjón’s style has elements of a very unique Icelandic sense of humour. The Blue Fox is a short novel with a few sections. Some pages only consist of a single written line, surrounded by large white surfaces calling to mind the Icelandic expanse. This concreteness can be said to balance on the line between prose and poetry. 'Skugga-Baldur' is also a contemporary novel which brings up some of today's ethical questions. Are the weak, deformed babies with developmental disorders welcome in a world where they could have been discarded already prior to birth?

This is what the Adjudicating Committee had to say

"The Blue Fox" balances skilfully on the border between poetry and prose. The novel weaves themes from Icelandic sagas, and romantic narrative art into a fascinating story in which present day ethical questions stand out.

Excerpt

Menn brutu nú upp miðþilfarið og það innihélt ekki færri lýsistunnur en það efra; og ekki sá högg á vatni, þótt uppskipuninni væri áfram haldið af karlmannlegu kappi. En þá gerðist það að vart varð lífs á skipinu. Eitthvað bærði á sér í myrkurkrikanum við skutinn, bakborðsmegin, en þangað varð komist eftir gangvegi sem lá milli skipssíðunnar og þrefaldra tunnuhlaðanna. Þaðan bárust andvörp og stunur - og járnskeljaglamur.
Það voru furðuleg hljóð og setti mikinn óhug að mönnum. Þrír fullsterkir menn buðust til að fara inn í skuggann að gá hverju sætti. En í því að þeir ætluðu að stökkva gegn hinni óboðnu vá, á staulaðist ámátleg vera fram undan tunnustaflanum, og litlu munaði að mennirnir styngju hana og kremdu til bana með járnkörlunum, svo brá þeim við þessa sjón:
Þetta var stúlka á unglingsaldri. Dökkt hárið féll eins og villigróður af höfði hennar, hörundið var þrútið og sárt af skít; utan á sig hafði hún ekki nema þefilla pokadruslu.


(s. 57-58, Bjartur, Reykjavík, 2005)

The Blue Fox, English translation: Victoria Cribb:

They now broke open the middle deck, which contained no fewer barrels of oil than the upper; and although the unloading was carried out with manly zeal, they seemed to make no impression. Then, one day, they became aware of life on board. Something moved in the dark corner by the stern, on the port side, accessible by a gangway running between the hull and the triple rows of barrels. There came a sound of sighing and moaning, accompanied by a metallic clanking.
These were uncanny sounds and men were filled with misgiving. Three stout fellows volunteered to enter the gloom and see what they should see. But just as they were preparing to pounce on the unlooked-for danger, a pathetic creature crept out from under the stack of barrels, and the men very nearly stabbed and crushed it to death with their crowbars, so great was their shock at the sight.
It was an adolescent girl. Her dark hair fell like a wild growth from her head, her skin was swollen and sore with filth; her nakedness was covered by nothing but a torn, stinking sack.

(p. 52, Telegram, 2008)

See all nominated in 2005  

Denmark

  • Simon Grotrian - Korstogets lille tabel (The Multiplication Table of the Crusade) Poetry collection
  • Kirsten Hammann - Fra smørhullet (From the Cosy Place), Novel

Finland

Iceland

  • Einar Kárason - Stormur (Storm), Novel
  • Sjón - Skugga-Baldur (Phantom Baldur), Novel

Norway

Sweden

Faroe Islands