The Blue Fox

Written by Sjón Victoria Cribb (trans.)
Review by Juliet Waldron

In January of 1883 in Iceland, the Reverend Skuggason hunts a rare blue fox. He is as intent upon the task of stalking his prey through the winter snow as the fox is upon staying alive. There is a strong element of greed in this hunt, and an even stronger element common to the 19th-century mindset, a desire to dominate, to crush and control. A contrasting voice, that of a wise and compassionate naturalist who lives in the area, assumes the narration midway, after the defining violence has taken place. The writing is like Iceland in winter, the landscape stark, black and blue, gray and white, at once mythical, breathtaking and heartbreaking, a poem in prose which probes the depths of our cruelty and kindness. In only 115 pages, we learn all we need to know about the characters, from the fox to the hard folk of a legendary island. There proves to be a mystery in the gradually revealed backstory, too, as well as in the mystery which lies at the core of life. Winner of the 2005 Nordic Council Literature Prize; highly recommended.