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The Blue Fox

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  5,998 ratings  ·  837 reviews

The year is 1883. The stark Icelandic winter landscape is the backdrop. We follow the priest, Skugga-Baldur, on his hunt for the enigmatic blue fox. From there we’re then transported to the world of the naturalist Friðrik B. Friðriksson and his charge, Abba, who suffers from Down’s syndrome
Paperback, 112 pages
Published March 2008 by Telegram (first published 2003)
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Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) Read the blurb up there under the title. Read a few reviews.
Read the book.…more
Read the blurb up there under the title. Read a few reviews.
Read the book.(less)

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Average rating 3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,998 ratings  ·  837 reviews

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Dec 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
In the snowflake that lingered on his fingertip lay a gleaming hair –there was no mistaking the colour:blue.


Discussing this brief novel in the book club and afterwards glancing through its pages another time, this book grew on me, unveiling more of its magical beauty and mysteries reading some of its lyric passages again. Having read Sjón’s Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was a few years ago, The blue fox came across as a more accomplished piece of writing. I greatly enjoyed its marvellous non-line
Jun 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mike Puma
'I have seen the universe, it is made of poems.'

All things change—nothing perishes.’ – Ovid

It always astonishes me when a book can create a vast amount of power and meaning out of such little story and length. Set amid the snow and ice of an Icelandic winter, Sjón’s The Blue Fox, winner of the 2005 Nordic Council Literature Prize, is as still and quiet as a coffin yet holds a horrific truth inside. Sjón masterfully laces two stories together, one of Reverend Baldur’s fateful hunt for a blue fox
May 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
jeff vandermeer's drawing of the cover:

 photo IMG_2107_zps6al0womn.jpg

the first sentence of the book’s description on the back cover of my copy is:

Set against the stark backdrop of the Icelandic winter, an elusive, enigmatic fox leads a hunter on a transformative quest.

which is itself an elusive, vague sentence, but it is also the most cheekily appropriate summary; one you don’t really appreciate until after you’ve read the book. which you should do. because i’m not sure how to review this responsibly, without giving away

I was getting worried in my own way. I had finished two books and written reviews for neither, started on a third, was reading test pages from a fourth (view spoiler), and had taken receipt of a fifth (view spoiler) which was dauntingly longer than I had expected - but with the unexpected potential benefit of being able to use it as a foot stool, when in the middle of doing a task that no-one else could do for me
Whitney Atkinson
Hmm. I bought this just because it sounded interesting, and it made me remember why I stopped doing that. The synopsis was better than the book. There were so many characters with different names that it got confusing, the format was discombobulated, it was pretty hard to understand and in general I just didn't understand the cohesiveness or significance of any of the events. I was glad it was short, and even more glad that I was able to finish it quickly. I wouldn't recommend this one unless yo ...more
Aug 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, foxes
A Self-Righteous Aside
Searching for images of a Blue Fox is disturbing. Here is a non-disturbing picture:

but for just about every photo of fox in the wild, there is a creepy drawing of cartoonish blue vixen with big boobs, or even worse pictures of fattened and depressed looking foxes being kept in cages awaiting their murder for their fur, dead foxes having been killed for their fur, or well the end result of their murder. Now murder might be a harsh word, and some people believe fur is right t
This Icelandic novella set in the late 19th century, is part historical fiction, part folktale or fantasy (that blue fox does some amazing things), part morality tale in recounting a two-fold story of the Reverend-hunter and Herbalist Fridrik. Also integral is Abba, or Hafdis, a young woman with Downs, who lives with Fridrik. Their story is the warm heart of this tale.

There is also some beautiful, and sometimes humorous, prose.

The night was cold and of the longer variety. (p 14)

The rim of dayl
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: iceland
Winner of the Nordic Council Literature Prize 2005;
English Translation: The Blue Fox

This short novel is mythical and dark, and it contains Sjón's typical brand of Icelandic magical realism: A realistic historical setting is elevated by the sudden impact of surreal elements that might be imagined by the people perceiving them. The book is set in 1883 and its heart is the destiny of Abba, a character who is already dead at the beginning of the story. She had Down's Syndrome and was ostracized by
Tamara Agha-Jaffar
Winner of the 2005 Nordic Council Literature Prize, The Blue Fox by Sjón, translated by Victoria Cribb, is part fable, part fairy tale, part myth, and part magical fantasy.

Set in Iceland’s stark, wintery landscape in 1883, the novella is divided into four parts. Part I
describes Reverend Baldur Skuggason hunting a blue fox and ends with him firing his rifle and killing the fox. Part II focuses on Fridrik Fridjonsson and Abba, his young assistant who suffers from Down’s syndrome. It includes Abba’
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5, rounded down.

This is my second sojourn with Sjón, and I think it safe to say that nobody writes like him. His short historically based Icelandic novellas sweep one into another time and place, and for the few brief hours it takes to read them, one is transported. As in my first Sjón, book, 'Moonstone: the Boy Who Never Was', this takes place in the 19th century and is loaded with fascinating details. And as in that previous book, the ending, although aptly fitting, is both a surprise and a
This is simple yet expands like poetry. At points it's visceral frozen art like prose. Novella length yet tome poignant. Crusty sad, emotional and physical winter crux. Sorrowful reality. For some reason this made me uncomfortable. Too close to death?
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Between reading this novel and writing this review, I listened to this great interview with Sjón on the CBC website. It illuminated some of the little bits in the novel, such as the theme of the goodness of nature and the magical powers of poetry.

This is a very short read, told in three parts, set in Iceland in 1883. The first happens chronologically after the second, but introduces the blue fox and the reverend. The second introduces Herb-Fridrik and Hafdís and the startling history of infanti
Sam Quixote
May 21, 2016 rated it did not like it
This should be called The Blah Fox because that’s all I felt after reading it: blah!

Set in 1883 Iceland for no reason, a dickhead hunts a rare blue fox in the snow, eventually shooting it. Cut to a different time for no reason and we’re introduced to a dead girl called Abba who had Down’s Syndrome. Then it’s back to the present where the dickhead is covered in snow after his shot caused an avalanche. Mamma mia, what the hell’s the story, my, my, what a crappy novel!

Sjon (you think you’re like
In 2013, A.S. Byatt wrote of Sjón (Sigurjón Birgir Sigurðsson) in The Guardian:
Every now and then a writer changes the whole map of literature inside my head. The most recent has been the Icelander Sjón, whose work is unlike anything I had read, and very exciting.

This is an exquisitely written little book about a man’s obsession with fox hunting. This particular man is the local pastor, who is universally unpopular. Set in the late 19th century, it is more
There are short novels that are perfect in their shortness. Of Mice and Men, We Have Always Lived in the Castle: the top contenders for perfect short novel.

This is a good short novel that could be a perfect long novel. In fact, it's a short story masquerading as a novel which should be a long novel which could be perfect.

The Blue Fox begins with a deceptively simple mini-story (the word "fable" here is almost unavoidable) of a hunter on the trail of a mythical, possibly magical, blue fox. Then t
Diane S ☔
3.5 The first part of this novella, which take place in Iceland, is of a man attempting to hunt down and kill a blue fox. The writing is in short paragraphs and one can feel the cold, see the snow covered ground and feel the frustration of the man as the fox keeps disappearing on him. The second part, takes one into the story and we find out who the man is and a few other characters, also the man finally gets the fox, but the fox has many different meanings.. If only divine justice worked in rea ...more
Salma  Mohaimeed
I did not get the message!
Apr 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, translation
it's curious the ways in which a novel that doesn't otherwise astound us can still have more of a lingering effect than those that so effortlessly do. sjón's the blue fox (skugga-baldur) is a novella set in late 19th century iceland concerning the fates of three individuals (or four, if you count that of the eponymous canine). as an icelandic novelist and poet, it is nearly inevitable that sjón would garner comparisons to nobel laureate and countryman halldór laxness, given that he is one of but ...more
Sep 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I was toying with giving this novel a four star rating, but further thought brought it down to a three. Enchanting as it is poetic — even if in a darkly fashion — Sjón is exquisite in both his writing and style. I did not expect such a superb, thrilling read. From the beginning I was hooked by the intensity of scenes due to the sheer focus on detail and the craft of such isolated happenings in an incredibly affective way. I commend the author for such an enrapturing ride and the ability to creat ...more
Sep 22, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: nordic, novella, 2011, iceland, iffp
Sept 2011
It may have the cutest cover of any book I've read as an adult, be described as a "fairy tale", with a recommendation from Bjork, but this story is far from twee.

The original Icelandic title is "Skugga-Baldur", also the name of one of the central characters - not a nice man - whom we first meet as he hunts the blue fox. The harshness of that sound, and the use of his name as the title, far better reflects the tale and its brutal environment. This is not "The Snow Goose" featuring a rare
Missy J
I have a flu and it's very cold where I live now. Yet, I still need to go to work and this short book was perfect to read during these hectic times.

The beginning of "The Blue Fox" reminded me a lot of "The Old Man & The Sea". We encounter a man trying to hunt down a blue fox. However, then the story changes and is about a woman with down syndrome who was found on a shipwreck. The last part of the book has a magical undertone - the fox comes back to life after being hunted and the conclusion of t
Oct 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: iceland
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ahmed Oraby
I have seen the universe! It is made of poems.!
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sjón
It seems as though this writer can't apply his mind to a subject without something beautiful taking place on the page.
Alan Cheuse
I love Richard Derus so much for introducing me to Sjon.

This book, this wonderful, brilliant novella is just so perfect.

On the surface, the novel/novella is about a hunt for a blue fox. The writing in the opening section, describing the land and the fox itself is powerful. You are there.

But the book is also about life in a faraway place, and the patterns and strangeness of life. Is the fox a fox or something more?

Sjon, to his credit, doesn't really answer that question. The book is better for t
Jun 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is a wonderful intersection of old mystical legends and slowly creeping modernization. On one hand there is a discussion about getting electricity into the village and on the other, there is a pastor who is obsessively hunting for the legendary and possibly magical blue fox. With shifting perspective between the idyllic Icelandic village life and the hunt, Sjon juxtaposes magical realism and reality in a striking fashion.

The snow, sun and the Scandinavian landscape plays host to funer
This short novel brings the reader to a magical realm of snow, a blue fox, and a stubborn hunter combined with a big dose of history and fate. It has so much potential, but I felt as if Sjon failed in his enterprise and ultimately produced a brief, pretentious novel that brings up so many interesting story lines in a draft format. Ultimately, the first part of the novel is the best one as we get to experience a silent hunt through the snow. The remainder of the story ties up historical connectio ...more
3.5 rounded down to 3 (because I'm cruel). The Blue Fox is precious, almost off-puttingly so, but what redeems it is teeth. Like Björk, for whom the author has written songs, this novella is cute and violent. The Icelandic stereotype of small, dreamy and stabby is in full effect here.
H.A. Leuschel
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful, moving and original novella.
Simay Yildiz
Dec 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For English, please visit Community BookStop.
Orijinali, Zimlicious'ta yayınlandı.

I slip right into dreamland even by just thinking about taking a walk under the Aurora Borealis lights… For The Blue Fox’s protagonist Peter Baldur Skuggason, on the other hand, this isn’t enough probably because he is a hunter, and he is after a blue fox which is considered a “mysterious and valuable being.”

I should warn you right away that you SHALL NOT throw this book to the side by saying, “this is going wayyyyy
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Sjón (Sigurjón B. Sigurðsson) was born in Reykjavik on the 27th of August, 1962. He started his writing career early, publishing his first book of poetry, Sýnir (Visions), in 1978. Sjón was a founding member of the surrealist group, Medúsa, and soon became significant in Reykjavik's cultural landscape.

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“I have seen the universe! It is made of poems!” 43 likes
“In the halls of heaven it was now dark enough for the Aurora Borealis sisters to begin their lively dance of the veils. With an enchanting play of colors they flitted light and quick about the great stage of the heavens, in fluttering golden dresses, their tumbling pearl necklaces scattering here and there in their wild caperings.” 7 likes
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