Sjón (born 1962, Reykjavik, Iceland) began his literary career at the tender age of fifteen when his first poetry collection, Sýnir (Visions), was published in 1978. He was one of the founding members of the neo-surrealist group Medúsa and early on acquired a high profile on the Reykjavík cultural scene. He has published numerous poetry collections and seven novels, as well as plays, libretti, and picture books for children. Alongside his work as writer Sjón has taken part in a wide range of art exhibitions and music events. His longtime collaboration with the Icelandic singer Björk led to an Oscar nomination for his lyrics for the Lars von Trier movie Dancer in the Dark.
In 2005 Sjón won the prestigious Nordic Council’s Literary Prize for his fifth novel, Skugga-Baldur(Schattenfuchs in German), which has been sold to publishers in twenty-one countries. In 2009 the English edition of Skugga-Baldur was nominated for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. Sjón’s latest novel, Rökkurbýsnir (From the Mouth of the Whale), from 2008 has recently been published to much acclaim in German, Spanish, and English, among others. Sjón’s poems have been translated into more than twenty languages and have appeared in anthologies and magazines as well as in separate editions in French, German, and Macedonian. His latest collection of poems söngur steinasafnarans (the song of the stone collector) was nominated for the Icelandic Literary Prize in 2007.
Sjón recently wrote a libretto for the opera, The Motion Demon, premiered by the Danish independent music theatre ensemble Figura in March 2011, as well as worked on the play Tales from a Sea Journeydevised in collaboration with the international theater company NIE (New International Encounter), premiered in Oslo in the autumn of 2010. His novel Argóarflísin (The Whispering Muse, 2005) is in the process of being adapted for an opera to be premiered in Copenhagen in the theatre season 2012/2013.
During the academic year 2007/08 Sjón held the Samuel Fischer Guest Professorship at the Freie Universität in Berlin. He has been a guest of the DAAD Berliner Künstlerprogramme in the year 2010/11. Sjón resides in Reykjavík with his wife and two children.
David McDuff (born 1945) is a British literary translator and editor. His translations include works of nineteenth-century Russian fiction in Penguin Classics (Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Leskov), as well as nineteenth- and twentieth-century Scandinavian poetry and prose.