Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was

Written by Sjón Victoria Cribb (trans.)

This is a very short book, short even for a novella, translated from the Icelandic and set during the 1918 influenza epidemic in Reykjavik. The main events occur during the autumn of that year, seen through the eyes of a 16 year old boy, Mani Steinn (Moonstone).

Mani is an orphaned dyslexic misfit who earns a living by renting himself out for homosexual encounters. Having survived an attack of ‘flu he is recruited by the doctor as an unofficial paramedic, retrieving the dead and dying from their homes, mainly because he is one of the few persons of working age still available. The epidemic struck most lethally at the young and healthy, and spared children and old people.

After the epidemic Mani becomes an embarrassment to the citizens of Reykjavik, and they find an opportunity to be rid of him. Sjón is descended from one of Mani’s contemporaries, and this is his tribute to him. It is an elegantly written story in a semi-mystical style, but it is not for readers who are offended by intimate descriptions of homosexual liaisons.