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In Translation: Sjón on Red Milk with Sam Anderson

February 15, 2022 via Zoom

The year is 1962, and an Icelandic man is found dead on a train bound for England, a map marred with a red-penned swastika in hand. Internationally celebrated author Sjón unpacks this mystery in his novel Red Milk, which tells the story of Gunnar Kampen, founder of Iceland’s antisemitic nationalist party. Through letters and scenes from Kampen’s lifetime, Sjón drives readers to confront the disturbing, perverse, and enduring reality of twentieth-century fascism. New York Times Magazine staff writer Sam Anderson and Sjón joined us for a potent, sobering discussion of this biographical mystery.

In Conversation

  • Sjón photo by Jóhann Páll Valdimarsson - Claire Fennell



    Sjón is a celebrated Icelandic author whose novels have been published in more than thirty-five languages. He won the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize for The Blue Fox, and From the Mouth of the Whale was shortlisted for both the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was received every literary prize in Iceland. CoDex 1962, a novel in three books written over twenty-five years, was published in Iceland in 2016 to great acclaim. Sjón has published more than a half dozen poetry collections and has written four opera libretti and lyrics for various artists. He is the president of the PEN International Icelandic Centre and lives in Reykjavík with his wife and two children.

    Photo Credit: Jóhann Páll Valdimarsson

  • image - Claire Fennell

    Sam Anderson

    Sam Anderson

    Sam Anderson is a staff writer for the New York Times Magazine, where he has written portraits of writers (Haruki Murakami, Anne Carson, John McPhee) and athletes (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Bill Walton) and odd places all over the world, including Mount Rushmore and a Charles Dickens theme park. His work has won the National Magazine Award for Essays and Criticism and has been included in multiple “Best American Writing” anthologies. Anderson is the author of the acclaimed book Boom Town: The Fantastical Saga of Oklahoma City, Its Chaotic Founding, Its Apocalyptic Weather, Its Purloined Basketball Team, and the Dream of Becoming a World-Class Metropolis.

    Photo Credit: Jeff Bark