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CoDex 1962: A Trilogy

af Sjón

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1162183,078 (3.35)18
"Dine øjne så mig" tidligere udgivet separat Originaludgave: 2016

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I am rarely impacted as intensely by a novel as I have been by this absolutely brilliant novel! Icelanders are known for their storytelling ability, and Sjón is incredible! This trilogy tells multiple stories within stories within stories, culminating in an understanding of humanity's destructive creativity and greed which will result in our end. No, not a happily ever after resolution.

At some point about midway through the trilogy I started looking up events which were woven into the plot, and found that indeed, 1962 was quite a year. The first radioactivity protection laws were written in Iceland, a country with no nuclear power, but whose environment started registering radioactive contamination. In 1962, thousands of Thalidomide babies were born. It was truly a year bearing consequences to "great advances".

There are multiple storylines I would love to tell you about, but that would spoil the profound experience of reading this book. Thank you, Sjón, for your prophetic, profound, and powerful storytelling! ( )
  hemlokgang | Mar 1, 2021 |
OK, it is not going to take me long to write this review because I failed to make sense of this book.

CoDex 1962 is actually a trilogy, which Wikipedia says consists of

  • Thine Eyes Did See My Substance (A Love Story),

  • Iceland’s Thousand Years (A Crime Story), and

  • I’m a Sleeping Door (A Science Fiction Story).

Wikipedia also says
The book's narration mimics the oral tradition of various folktales and religious texts, taking influence from Icelandic folklore and The Bible, with the narrator often expanding upon the plot by referencing these stories. CoDex 1962 explores themes of nationalism, social injustice, and the Jewish resettlement in Iceland during World War II.
Goodreads provided the blurb:
Jósef Loewe can recall the moment of his birth in August, 1962 and everything that has happened since - or so he claims to the woman listening to the tale of his life...

A love story
He begins with his father, Leo, a starving Jewish fugitive in World War II Germany. In a small-town guesthouse, Leo discovers a kindred spirit in the maid who nurses him back to health; together they shape a piece of clay into a baby.

A crime story
Leo escapes to Iceland with the clay boy inside a hatbox, only to become embroiled in a murder mystery. It is not until 1962 that his son Jósef can be born.

A science-fiction story
In modern-day Reykjavík, a middle-aged Jósef attracts the interest of a rapacious geneticist. Now, what lies behind Jósef's tale emerges. And as the story of genesis comes full circle, we glimpse the dangerous path ahead for humankind.

In this epic novel, Sjón has woven ancient and modern material into a singular masterpiece - encompassing genre fiction, history, theology, folklore, expressionist film, poetry, comic strips, myth, drama and, of course, the rich tradition of Icelandic storytelling.
But I am here to tell you that I found its blend of genres chaotic and I did not understand what the book was on about. The first book, about the Jewish refugee holed up in a guesthouse, was ok. I didn't like the flippant tone of the interlocutor who interrogates the narrator, but I understood what was going on. Except that I didn't understand the point of having a clay baby instead of one conceived in the ordinary way.

The second book was about the pursuit of the thief who had stolen the gold that was crucial to the clay baby receiving the spark of life. Maybe I didn't understand it because I am (happily) unfamiliar with the tropes of crime fiction.

I did not understand the third book at all. It obviously has to do with a future in which Iceland trades in the DNA of its citizens and things have gone horribly wrong. But that's as far as I got.

If you are still with me after this wholly inadequate review, I suggest you read the review at The Guardian.

#Muttering There are times when I feel I should abandon my policy of reviewing everything I read... ( )
  anzlitlovers | Sep 25, 2020 |
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"Dine øjne så mig" tidligere udgivet separat Originaludgave: 2016

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