“Fish Have No Feet” by Jon Kalman Stefansson (2017 Man Booker International Nominee)

Scandinavian book number three on this year’s Man Booker International long list is “Fish Have No Feet”  by Jon Kalman Stefansson. The book follows a young man named Ari home, to his childhood town of Keflavik. Ari returns to Keflavik after several years abroad, feeling that he finally needs to confront his past…

“Fish Has No Feet” provides an interesting window into the past and present of Keflavik. We learn about Keflavik’s climate, main industries and shaky economic present. We also learn about Ari’s life, as well as the past and present of his numerous friends and acquaintances..

I enjoyed the pieces of the novel about Keflavik. What I enjoyed somewhat less, however, were the many paragraphs filled with the characters’ existentialist musings. In these paragraphs, I felt as if Kalman Stefansson tried too hard to fill each sentence to the brim with his philosophical and poetic musings. As a result, many sentences in the novel felt unwieldy, bloated and overexaggerated. Less would definitely have been more, and I feel that novel would have been much stronger had it been less ‘stuffed’.

This having been said, there was something about the novel that, nevertheless, held my interest. I am interested to know how Ari’s life unfolds (I’m told that this is a first book in a series). I may yet pick up the continuation, should it ever be released in English.

My Final Rating: *** (good)

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