A spellbinding saga about the inhabitants and inheritors of one rural community, by one of Iceland’s most beloved novelists.
A man comes to awareness in a church in rural Iceland, not knowing why he’s there or how he arrived. When a local woman offers to reunite him with her sister, he realizes he’s lost not only his bearings, but his memory as well: he doesn’t recognize either woman, and as their stories unfold, he’s plunged into a history spanning centuries and lives: a city girl drawn to the fjords by the memory of a blue-eyed gaze; a pastor who writes to dead poets and falls in love with a stranger from afar; a woman who must abandon her son to save her family; a musician plagued by cosmic loneliness; and an alcoholic transfixed by the night sky. Faced with the violence of destiny and the effects of choices, made and avoided, that cascade between lives, each discovers the cost of happiness.
An incandescent romance about the misfortune of mortality and the strange salve of time, Your Absence Is Darkness is a spellbinding story of death, desire, and the perfect agony of star-crossed love.
Praise for Your Absence Is Darkness
“A […] lyrical study of grief across decades.”
“Jón Kalman Stefánsson is a poet … Your Absence Is Darkness is poetic and beautiful and so full of love and grief that it leaves no one untouched.”
“Incontestably this winter’s most beautiful title … Once again Stefánsson proves his exceptional talent.”
—Livres Hebdo (France)
“Stefansson has created a masterpiece with this new novel. You don’t want it to end.”
—NDR Kultur (Germany)
“A wonderful family saga, pieced together through memories, myths, legends. Page after page, the characters emerge from the background, step closer, come alive. You just want to spend more time with them and never leave their world.”
—Corriera della Sera (Italy)
“During a time when no one can tell how things are going to turn out in this vast, dark world, Jón Kalman Stefánsson offers heart-wrenching wisdom, which purifies without placating.”
Praise for Jón Kalman Stefánsson
“Wistful and whimsical … [Stefánsson’s] writing is fertile, yielding extraordinary imagery. There are many tears in these stories and in this village, but there is also hope, because even unfulfilled dreams offer guidance, ‘they evaporate and settle like dew in the sky, where they transform into the stars in the night.'”
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Jón Kalman Stefánsson’s lyrical style has earned him a dedicated following of readers in Iceland. [In] Summer Light, and Then Comes the Night each standalone story describes life in a small village in West Iceland, normal people—their insecurities and anxieties, their courage and loneliness. Together, these episodes create one, coherent whole; there’s no set narrator, but rather, it’s the village that tells these stories of hope, cruelty, life, and death.”
“Stefánsson is a superb storyteller with a metaphysical bent. He draws characters with empathy and wit, and frames their condition in existential dichotomies: modernity versus the past, mystical versus rational, destiny versus coincidence.”
“Stefánsson shares the elemental grandeur of Cormac McCarthy.”
—Eileen Battersby, TLS
“The Icelandic Dickens … He has the same gift of writing with great understanding, an empathy with troubled souls and a skill at laugh-out-loud comedy.”