Janoda, Jeff 1960–
Janoda, Jeff 1960–
PERSONAL: Born 1960; married; children: two.
ADDRESSES: Home—Ontario, Canada. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Academy Chicago Publishers, 363 W. Erie St., 7E, Chicago, IL 60610. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Social studies and science teacher; has also worked as an historical interpreter.
Saga: A Novel of Medieval Iceland, Academy Chicago Publishers (Chicago, IL), 2005.
Also author of science fiction short stories.
SIDELIGHTS: Jeff Janoda got his start in fiction writing as a contributor of short science-fiction tales to magazines. His first novel, Saga: A Novel of Medieval Iceland, draws on his already-developed ability to portray worlds alien to most readers in order to retell the thirteenth-century Icelandic saga known as the Eyrbyggia. Here, the author combines realistic descriptions of the struggle to survive the harsh landscape of tenth-century Iceland with more fantastical elements, such as a hostile race of elves. Because farmable land is so precious on the nearly completely frozen island, the Norwegian settlers find themselves engulfed in constant, violent feuds. This only adds to their misery in an unforgiving land that is also populated by dangerous animals, such as polar bears. Viewing the lives of the Icelanders through the eyes of Norwegian merchant Hrafn, Janoda also shows how these people, who have no king or royalty to rule over them, have nevertheless developed a just code of laws and ethics that keep their feuding from descending into complete chaos and immorality.
Reviewing the novel for the Globe and Mail, critic Margaret Elphinstone admired its ambitiousness, but nevertheless found some flaws. Elphinstone felt that Janoda's effort falls somewhere between the original saga, which in the old tradition does not focus much on character development, and modern literature, which does. She stated: "Previously a science-fiction writer, Janoda, in his first novel, clearly knows how to draw the reader into an alien landscape and community. But perhaps his characters have lost the stature of the great saga figures without gaining the psychological depth possible in a modern novel." On the other hand, Brad Hooper pointed out in his Booklist review that Saga "does what good historical fiction is supposed to do: put a face on history that is recognizable to us all."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 2005, Brad Hooper, review of Saga: A Novel of Medieval Iceland, p. 1648.
Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), March 18, 2006, Margaret Elphinstone, "A First Fiction Feast: Three Young Canadian Authors Have Written Vastly Different Novels, but All of Them Are Quirky, Skillful and Gripping," review of Saga, p. D8.
Jeff Janoda Home Page, http://www.jeffjanoda.com (April 21, 2006).