The third 22nd century author to feature in Glaswegian artist Katie Paterson’s Future Library has been announced and it’s the rather wonderful Icelandic author of Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was Sjón.
Joining Margaret Atwood and David Mitchell Sjón will present Katie with his finished manuscript in the middle of Oslo’s Nordmarka forest, where she planted 1,000 trees in 2014, it will then be passed on to a trust who will keep the collected manuscripts under lock and key until 2114 when the forest will be cut down and turned into the paper that the manuscripts will be printed on.
Katie, a Scottish artist will never see her artwork come to fruition, nor will any of the contributing authors who have donated their time to her artwork but there is no shortage of participants willing to contribute to this amazing piece of art.
Margaret Atwood was the first author to contribute a manuscript with her story Scribbler Moon which she handed over to Katie in 2015, David added From Me Flows What You Call Time in the spring of 2016 and now Sjón will be the first non-English-language contributor.
Discussing her decision to include the Icelandic author in her artwork Katie said “Sjón creates a world of metamorphosis: his poetic works weave together history and myth, folklore, ancient storytelling, the surreal and the magical, through the language of past and contemporary Icelandic,”
“His writing is dynamic and melodic, and like Future Library, interlaces the human and natural world through stretches of time. In addition to writing poems, novels, plays, librettos, lyrics, and children’s books, Sjón often collaborates with other artists and musicians, so I am very excited about the possibilities his contribution will bring to this hidden library growing through the trees.”
Sjón himself is also delighted telling the Guardian, “I sat out here green with envy and hoping my turn would come sometime in the next 50 years, before I’m 104,” he said. “There are so many beautiful things about it – the fact the forest will be growing as the writers contribute to the project. That this is an actual living thing, growing, waiting.” adding his desire to be part of the project came from how it “makes you confront questions” [about how an author writes, and how their work is received.] “Most of the time at the back of our minds when we’re writing, we’re thinking about reception, about our fears and our hopes that our works will survive through the decades and into the centuries ahead,” he said. “How much do you rely on the reception of your work? Does it matter, and how big a part is it of my way of writing? Is it all about vanity, about instant shaming or instant praise?”
A novelist, poet and librettist, Sjón has not yet decided what form his contribution will take, stating that even when he has decided he will not reveal anything.
“I’ve already started thinking about this and rolling it around in my mind. I still haven’t decided what kind of text I will write,” he said. “I don’t know if it will be a big work or a small work. Katie says it’s completely up to me if it’s a one-word piece or a novella or a single poem. That’s also part of the game. But if you do that, is it because you don’t want to risk saying more, or because it’s all you have to say? We’ll see.”
I am off to find a cryogenics lab and make sure I am ready to be defrosted in 2113, this is worse than waiting for G.R.R Martin to finish his Song of Ice and Fire saga.