The book: The Blue Fox, by Sjon
The edition: Portuguese translation by Maria João Freire de Andrade, as published by Cavalo de Ferro (softcover edition), 107 pages
The story: Baldur Skuggason is out hunting a blue fox. His hunt is an obsession. And their story is also the story of Abba, a young mentally challenged girl.
My experience with the book & my thoughts: we were supposed to go to Iceland, and looking through the few Icelandic titles at the library I was tempted by this booklet (just over 100 pages, sparsely written) which was publicized as the winner of the Nordic Council Literature Prize 2005. (Unfortunately, we won’t be traveling there at this time…)
In a way, the book reminded me of Maxence Fermine’s three “color” books (Snow, The Black Violin, The Beekeper), with its very short chapters telling a story that can have plenty of different meanings. Still, I had the feeling that in this case most of the meanings were lost on me, and they would on most non-Icelanders, too. (My husband also read this, and we tried to share ideas on it, but we were basically scratching our heads and falling silent.)
What I liked: the delicate way in which the author depicted the world and feelings of two mentally challenged characters. I almost cried when I realized the answer to Halfdan’s question “Where is Abba?”.
What I didn’t like: the violence of the hunting and killing scenes.
Language & translation: I cannot really say much about this. But I found an interesting information inside the Times’ review of this book (please beware, that review contains spoilers, heaps of them; but it also has some good leads for a better understanding):
I came across the information on the internet that the Icelandic for “blue fox” is skugga-baldur, making hunter and prey in some sense identical. (The translated book does not tell us that.)
Random thought: I can’t name even one single song by Bjork (Sjon wrote the lyrics to her songs)
Read this if: if you like books to leave you with more questions than answers.