The Blue Fox by Sjon (thoughts)
I’ve had a lot of fun in the past couple of years getting to know Scandivanian literature. The wonderful thing about being new to a reading genre or region is that there are so many excellent books to discover! The Blue Fox by Sjon has been on my radar ever since Claire’s post in 2009 (miss you Claire!). In fact, I even ILLed it, but sadly it arrived during a flare-up so I didn’t get to read it before having to return it. Tony’s more recent post inspired me to request it again, and this time I started it as soon I got home from the library!
It’s a slim novel, and it’s made even slimmer by a layout that sometimes has just a few sentences on a page, which makes it perfect for a quiet afternoon. The setting is a nineteenth century Icelandic winter, so along with a pot of tea and cozy blanket, this would be a lovely seasonal read. It’s difficult to talk about shorter books without giving too much away, but I will say that Sjon weaves Icelandic folklore and a bit of magical realism into a kind of puzzle plot. His writing style is evocative, and the landscapes rose up in front me as I read. I love a strong sense of place, and The Blue Fox definitely delivers. I also loved the fable quality.
While I certainly enjoyed this book, I will say that for me it was a four star read instead of a five star for certain gender issues. This will be a vague spoiler, for those who don’t like to know anything, but I’m just a bit tired of authors who use the rape and sexual abuse of women/girls as a plot device, especially as a motive for male characters, when the book isn’t really about that. It seems unimaginative and a bit lazy. That being said, I will be reading more of Sjon in the future, just with my fingers crossed that the gender problems in The Blue Fox aren’t echoed in his other novels.