Stone Tree

Winner of the 2011 Nordic Council Literature Prize

"Gyrðir Elíasson’s stories take us out of ourselves. Situated on the lonely western shores of Iceland, or out in the vast mountain ranges or barren lava fields, each is a study in self-exile. We follow a Boston ornithologist, speeding through the landscape chasing Arctic Terns; a boy relocating to the town of Siglufjördur to compete in a chess tournament; a husband packing his wife off to visit her aunt. In almost every story, we find people taking leave of their normal lives to take their dreams more seriously.

But even in the most desolate surroundings, Elíasson’s characters find strange company; ghostly presences in the early hours, enviable neighbours, fellow writers turning up at the same retreat, with the same ambitions. Like the wide canopy of stars under which they’re told, these stories plot a constellation of single, glittering images: a child defacing a new piano with a chisel in the middle of the night; a freezer packed with carefully wrapped dead birds, candles floating in a pond at night… Elíasson’s images are always unresolved, but are also somehow complete; like the dreams he shares with us, that lead us, through their own solitude, into other people’s. As Elíasson writes, ‘all dreams are joined at the edges, like the squares in a patchwork quilt.’"

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