Almost the Same Size as the Universe
Jón Kalman Stefánsson
A family saga chronicles joy and pain, passion and suffering, loyalty and failure, life and death, proximity and astray, and love in its diverse forms.
It was only halfway through writing ‘Fish Have No Feet’ that Jón discovered the story could not be contained by a single volume. “At first I was afraid that it would end up as a trilogy,” he says. “I’ve written two trilogies already, and I wasn’t quite ready to add a third. That’s always the way with my writing though—the world of the story grows larger each time I sit down to write. New characters and events appear from the depths. I’m grateful for that. That way it feels as if I’m creating something larger than myself. All decent works of art are greater than their creators, and have within them something that we don’t understand but only sense, almost like a dream.”
This process of discovery is a familiar one for Jón , who makes allowances for such changes during the writing. “Getting started on a book can take months of preparation and guesswork,” he says. “A novel has a grand anatomy, so you must be thoroughly prepared. However, as soon as I begin writing, the story starts to change–often quite drastically. I always end up with something completely different from what I started with. Thank God, I say. Fiction is the art of the unexpected. It’s irrational; you shouldn’t be able to predict it or prepare for it. If you could predict everything, where’s the wonderment? Where’s the unexpected? Where is the fiction?”