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Critically Acclaimed Icelandic Author Sjón Visits Berlin

Literary evening at the cultural centre of the Nordic embassies

May 12th, 2015

On May 13th, the cultural center of the Nordic embassy will welcome Icelandic author Sjón to celebrate the launch of his latest book release in Germany Moonstone - The Boy Who Never Was (Der Junge, den es nicht gab). Sjón has been internationally praised and he is now here in Berlin to talk about his latest publication.

The celebrated Icelandic novelist Sjón, born in 1962 in Reykjavík, writes poetry, song lyrics, novels and screenplays. His work has been internationally praised, and among his achievements are the lyrics for the Oscar nominated Lars von Trier film Dancer in the Dark and his novel Blue Fox that received the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize in 2005. Sjón has also been the lyricist in some of Björk’s songs. His latest book Moonstone - The Boy Who Never Was (Der Junge, den es nicht gab) was awarded the 2013 Icelandic Literary Prize and has also garnered praise from the German critics since its launch here in April 2015.

The novel captures the life of the Icelandic 16-year-old Máni Steinn during the Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918. The boy is rebellious, poor, gay and fascinated by movies and sells himself to male strangers to be able to afford seeing every film that comes to town. Máni lives at the fringe of society in the beginning of the 20th century Iceland. Apart from that fact that the main character is gay and has a very tough fate, Sjón has described Máni as the one of his characters that has come the closest to him - the movie mania, the rebellion and being at the odds of society.

Sjón spent many years collecting material about the three elements of the book, the Spanish Influenza epidemic that reached Iceland in the autumn of 1918, Icelanders’ interest in films right from the birth of cinematography, and the history of homosexual people in Reykjavík. Factual material provides the basis for all of Sjón’s books and for this novel he ploughed through all the material that was written about the Spanish Influenza epidemic in Iceland and the history of gay people in Iceland. In addition he did extensive research on cinema culture in Reykjavík up to 1919. All of which he found was scarcely written about.

Sjón dedicated the book to his uncle who died of AIDS-related complications in the beginning of the 1990s, saying that the end of the book tells his story. Arguing that there is no queer literature in Iceland, Sjón has said that he wanted to include quite graphical sexual scenes in the book, also to make the life of the character as honest as possible. Out Magazine has labeled Sjón’s book as the gayest book of Iceland.

The literary night takes place in the cultural centre of the Nordic embassies, the Felleshus, at 7.30 pm moderated by Wolfgang Müller.

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