From the Mouth of the Whale by Sjon
This is the story of the exile of Jonas Palmason to a remote island off the Icelandic coast. His story starts in 1635 but through flashbacks and flashfowards we receive an understanding of the life of this man and the trials he has endured for learning. Jonas’s nickname is “The Learned” and he suffers greatly for his quest for knowledge.
Sjon is a poet and you need to chew on his words for a bit sometimes to really absorb their meaning. A short book, but by no means a quick read. He delves into religion, philosophy and psychology, all which resonant in modern times, but he never loses the time period he set his story in — you never forget that you’re in the 1600s. It is also most definitely Icelandic. The more I read about the country and the literature of the country the more intrigued and puzzled I am by life there.