Saga Land‘ is as sweeping as its title.  The book opens with a map and lists … of important dates ( from 20 million years ago to c.1270) and of characters, only two of whom are Australians.

Also with a simple saga, a way in for readers like me.   The Icelandic idea of a saga is much richer than the word in English.  I first became attracted to the art from through the work of Icelandic singer Björk.  In trying to understand the music of this extraordinary artist, I needed to understand long, cold nights and the lyricism of storytelling.   Richard Fidler and Kari Gislason are the writers of this extraordinary, engrossing book and it is vast, beautiful, lyrical and so human despite the epic nature of some of the tale.

Fidler and Gislason are long standing friends, they live near each other and the families socialise but Gislason has carried a family secret.  His mother promised never to reveal the name of his father.  His father was married with five children.  True to her word there is no male parent on the birth certificate.

But Gislason, who describes himself in the character list as “an academic drudge” had a desire to write.  When his story is opened out and families are revealed, it appears that he may be related to Snorri Sturluson, accepted as one of the most revered saga writers.

In English we might call this co-written book a quest of sorts, for patrimony and familial understandings.  But the modern story is just one of four parts to the book which reaches back to events and people  of the past remembered only through historical storytelling on long, frozen nights.

Published by ABC Books (Harper Collins) , it is such a wonderful book and I highly recommend it, whatever the weather.  But before committing, you can hear one of the authors, used to doing the interviewing himself, in conversation with Rove.

THE POPULAR EXPERIMENT WITH ROVE MCMANUS (Presented by Justin Hamilton) at  Giant Dwarf in Cleveland Street on the 16th February, 7:30pm .

Rove McManus returns with Richard Fidler, the host of Conversations on the ABC to talk about his new book, ‘Saga Land’. Rove presents not only Fidler but some of his favourite comedians to discuss the world of music, film, podcasts, stand-up and TV. This one off special will whet your appetite before returning for a new season later in the year.”