"I was supposed to be thinking out my life afresh; if not for others, at least for myself," explains the narrator of the first story in Stone Tree, about why he has come to be living alone in a cabin with no company for weeks. The translation from Icelandic by Victoria Cribb compellingly captures the geographical and emotional isolation of the characters who people the bite-size stories in this collection, set on the outskirts of villages, lonely mountain ranges and the barren lava fields of Iceland. In vivid and haunting prose, Eliasson shows how no man can be an island, as community intrudes upon their self-exile in the most unexpected ways.
This is one collection in the five engaging titles published by Comma Press under its new translation imprint (others include translations from Catalan, Dutch and German, as well as an anthology set against Europe's port cities). What is found in translation is the characters' universal struggle to understand with greater clarity the bewildering world and their place within it.