Review: Red Milk, by Sjón

This is the second book I’ve read by this Icelandic author, the first being Moonstone: The boy who never was (2016). These are both very short books (novellas, actually) and both tell the stories of young men growing up in Reykjavík. And there the similarity ends. For while the earlier book had for a protagonist a young gay man who adored movies more than almost anything else, this book describes how a different boy, at a different time, can turn into a neo-Nazi. The book explains little and assumes a certain familiarity with the Second World War. For example, at one point the boy finally meets his aunt, who arrives just after the war from Norway. She had been described to him as being full of life, and beautiful, but instead he meets a deeply unhappy woman who has lost all her hair. In other words — though Sjón never says this — she almost certainly had a relationship with a German soldier during the occupation of her country, and was punished for it. This is not a simple story — nor was Moonstone — and features a challenging protagonist, but in the end I think it works.