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The Blue Fox: A Novel Paperback – April 30, 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In January 1883 in Iceland, “Everything . . . is blue.” Rural pastor Baldur Skuggason hunts a fox for its pelt, which he will sell to supplement his meager income. The herbalist Fridrik B. Fridjonsson is completing a hoax on Baldur that has allowed him, Herb-Fridrik, to bury his longtime assistant, who had Down syndrome, with more reverence than the grumpy, prejudiced minister ever could show. A flashback showing how Herb-Fridrik met his helper completes the action of this short novel by poet and pop-music lyricist (most famously for Iceland’s international star, Björk) Sjón. The tale is tinged by metamorphoses, however, of animal into human and vice versa, and it is written primarily in the spare, concrete diction of nature poetry—indeed, its opening section looks like a sequence of prose poems. Leavened by dry rural humor in the characters’ speech and thoughts, it is magnetically readable. See also The Whispering Muse. --Ray Olson

Review

“When I need something epic and lyrical I call upon Sjón . . . The Blue Fox is a magical novel.” ―Björk

The Blue Fox describes its world with brilliant, precise, concrete colour and detail . . . Comic and lyrical.” ―A. S. Byatt, The Times (London)

“Enchantingly poetic . . . Spellbinding . . . Magical . . . Exceptional . . . Require[s] that one use the loose descriptive ‘thriller' too.” ―Nuruddin Farah, The Independent

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Reprint edition (April 30, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374114455
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374114459
  • Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.4 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #278,290 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ms. Mary O'donnell on January 27, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This novel is about the hunting of a blue fox. What is a blue fox? That's for the reader to discover. Obviously, it IS a fox, but its significance in this wonderful tale is what makes the book so fascinating. The harsh day to day landscape of Iceland, the harshness of life itself, the pain of existence, the journeying, the methods of survival - but that suggests this is an 'adventure' novel. It's not, at least not in any ordinary sense of that word. It is an adventure into the self, into the soul of the human faced with the loneliness of existence and the quest for what is essential. It is also beautifully, tightly, succinctly, poetically written.
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"The Blue Fox," by Sjon, is a dark, yet playful and humorous fable about a kind man, an evil man, a simpleton, and a blue fox. It is about fate, life, and human nature. The novella deals with evil cloaked in religion and justice being delivered in mysterious ways. It is full of hidden meaning, subtlety, and delightful intellectually amusing diversions.

This small book can be read easily in a single sitting...yet it is also the type of literature that benefits from a second reading. Personally, I enjoyed it far more when rereading it than I did the first time around. I had to use the dictionary frequently and had to pay special attention to Icelandic names and nicknames.

In my opinion, there  is no single right way to interpret this parable. Readers will uncover various personal messages that bear significance to their individual lives. But I feel strongly that the emphasis of this novel is not on the meaning behind the parable, rather it is on the joy, magic, and humor of the telling. Sjon is an imp of a storyteller; his stories can move off suddenly in any direction: dark, bizarre, touching, dazzling, brilliant, wise. He frequently uses contrasting literary styles--especially stark realism versus magical realism--to evoke synergy and literary counterpoint. Reading  Sjon is, above all, an experience. Allow yourself to feel his words. If you've read one book and liked it, then I suspect you'll eagerly want to come back for more. 

"The Blue Fox" is one of a trilogy of Sjon's prize-winning novellas that are currently being published (by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux) for the first time in the U.S. in outstanding translations by Victoria Cribb. The other two books in this series are "The Mouth of the Whale" and "The Whispering Muse.
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I thought The Blue Fox was mesmerizing and amazingly I had decided to read the book because a friend of mine had read it and thought it very strange (she didn't like it!). This novel should receive all sorts of prizes for the starkness of the landscape, the clever way Sjon conjures up the different people such as Abba,Fridrickson and most of all the priest Skuggason. I highly recommend this book - it makes you think. It is not a novel you read as a "page-turner" and then put it down and forget about it. It has a haunting quality and reminded me in some ways of Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea
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The Blue Fox is a difficult book to judge. On the one hand it is beautifully, even poetically, written. One the other it is a bare bones story, one which takes only about two hours to read. Sjon focuses less on story here, and more on creating an atmosphere; a stark, brutal, and terribly beautiful atmosphere. And he does so wonderfully, managing to powerfully evoke a sense of time and place in a relatively few amount of words. The sparse nature of the book probably works in its favor here, giving little opportunity for the spell to be broken, but I can't help but feel that if this were a longer, more fleshed out novel it could have been truly great. Still, The Blue Fox is a very good little book, well worth the read.
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Must be read twice, ha! I loved this brilliant novel by one of Icelands finest. It is a quirky and tightly written, short lyrical story that is spiritual in nature, offering examples of the mythic level as well as a more fully realized religious practitioner. I liked it a lot and it made me think.
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This is a story of wonder. I can imagine its birth In the lands of Iceland, on one of those nights that lasts for all but a handful of hours. It starts with the hunt of the blue fox, who is clearly more than any ordinary animal. The story shifts through lenses and minds, but I find myself drawn to Fridrik and his Abba. We suspect who she is and how the fox, and the hunter, and the servant who has come to call are linked, but we only learn it for sure until the end.

"Things change- nothing persists. The burden that is well borne becomes light." These two puzzles emerge, and it our job to discern how they impact our tale.
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A myth of magical quality tied into modern times with modern depravity. This story has no hero to relate to; the best of the book is in the rendition of the myth and the ability to link it to the present day. There were no negatives.I would recommend to anyone who likes the surrealisticand myhical.
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My daughter recommended this. Visceral, enigmatic. Leaves an after-image of mystery and unanswered questions.

I'll read more of Sjon's works, if only to experience the language. But, there is more. The landscape is as much a character in this small book as the humans and animals. And, the story is based on an old folk-tale. I want to know more. About the setting, the history, the writer and his works.
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