ManBooker International Fiction Review: Fish Have No Feet by Kalman Stefansson

Fish Have No FeetFish Have No Feet by Jón Kalman Stefánsson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ll always keep saying this: TRANSLATED FICTION is EVERYTHING! If at once, you write a book in a certain language, and someone wants to consider it for translation, then your book is pretty good. Sadly this isn’t always the case.
I’ll always say this: Fish Have No Feet is EVERTHING! I’m almost tempted to read the original to find if the translator captured every rhythm, every poetry, every music behind the original lines, letting no meaning, no beauty sink through the rigors of the language where the untranslated accumulate and are left ignored.
Fish Have No Feet is BEAUTIFUL. The voice of the narrator, who’s very much passive, makes this whole work literary. Trust me, I’ve read some books with passive narrators that aren’t worth recommending. But this Book! This book is likely to win the MANBOOKER!
The characters, Ari, who the book is focused on, his life, his family, all sing, all fly off the page, all ask questions that need to be asked in fiction, in life. The questions about family, love, happiness. At a point the writer zones out of the beautiful prose, posing the reader with a lot of questions we don’t have answers to. Questions that make us stare into the distance for a while before getting on with this book. All the characters, all the vignettes. It was enjoyable!
The setting contributed much to beauty of this novel. It’s not Iceland, it’s Keflavik, the darkest place on earth. The sea, the scenery, it all contributed to the masterpiece this was. And every minute, you’re not aware of your surroundings, every flip of the page you feel yourself transporting, sinking into the depths of this beautiful novel. Until a hand is waved at your face (which happened a lot to me!)
And the shocker at the end! When you find out what actually was our lead’s purpose returning to Iceland, Keflavik. How even the most reliable narrators can at once be unreliable.
Now, you need to read this book because I say so. I’ll tell you not to read it if it was shit, trust me.

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