Bjørn Larssen’s Storytellers in Audiobook Format

From Tantor Media September 7th.

If you don’t know this marvellous book, here’s my review from its release day in 2019.

Storytellers-cover

Set against Iceland’s harsh but beautiful landscape in the late 19th and  early 20th century, Bjørn Larssen’s debut novel Storytellers explores the multi-generational effect of the evasions, embellishments and outright lies told in a small village. The book begins slowly, almost lyrically, pulling the reader into what seems like situation borrowed from folktale: a reclusive blacksmith, Gunnar, rescues an injured stranger, Sigurd. In exchange for his care, Sigurd offers Gunnar a lot of money, and a story.

But as Sigurd’s story progresses, and the book moves between the past and the present, darker elements begin to appear. Gunnar’s reclusiveness hides his own secrets, and the unresolved stories of his past. As other characters are introduced and their lives interweave, it becomes clear that at the heart of this small village there are things untold, things left out of the stories, purposely re-imagined. Both individual and collective histories – and memories – cannot be trusted.

The book was reminiscent of Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant, in both theme and mood. Both books deal with the unreliability of memory; both are largely melancholy books. And perhaps there is allegory in them both, too. Storytellers is a book to be read when there is time for contemplation, maybe of an evening with a glass of wine. It isn’t always the easiest read, but it’s not a book I’m going to forget easily, either.

Sit back, put your feet up, and listen…

A writer, releasing her work into the world, gives her characters over to the readers. We have our own idea of their personalities, their appearance, their voices, but what we see and hear will not be what the reader sees and hears.

But an audio version of your work – that’s an interpretation of your characters that extends out to others, a shared experience. I’ve had other work read before on podcasts, but Benjamin Kelman’s reading of the first chapter of my novella Oraiáphon surpassed them. He has given his own versions of personality to my characters, surprising me with some, but in the end completely pleasing me.

Here’s the link. You’ll need about half an hour, but please, listen to his other readings too on Stories to Drive By. You won’t be disappointed.