The Return of the Divine Mary

The Return of The Divine Mary was published in Icelandic in 1996 and was nominated for the Icelandic Literary Price that same year. The Arabic Sphinx Agency bought the publishing right in Arabic in 2008.

It was published in German by Tropen (Klett-Cotta) in August 2012. On the Cover of the German version is a painting from the well known German Painter Norbert Bisky. It is an interesting cooperation between these two artist which we could see more of in the future. Essay on the German version can be read here.

Cover by Norbert Bisky

It was published in English by Red Hand Books, in the translation of David McDuff, in 2014.

Read Chapter 3 >>>

Bjarni Bjarnason in conversation with George Messo >>>

(The Near East Review Anthology #1: 2003)

The Novel has been well recieved by Critics

" extraordinary, beautifully written novel. It is clever, intriguing, wild and very, very human. I loved it." Roddy Doyle, Author.

"Bjarnason writes like an angel. The Return of the Divine Mary is a powerfully imaginative book, a cross between Breton and Kafka put into prose so lucit it hurts." Jeremy Reed, Author"

Grapevine. 10.8.2007. Words by Tobias Munthe.
Part romance, part thriller, part theological speculation, The Return of the Divine Mary is a wonderfully eccentric, enchanting read. Traces of William Blake mingle with undertones of Bulgakov, Eco and Kafka to create a fast-paced, unpredictable drama constructed on an intriguing premise: ‘What would the Virgin Mary be like as a young woman in modern society, and how would her contemporaries receive her?’

The story follows Michael von Blomsterfeld, inventor, acrobat, rebel, romantic and grandson to the great theologian, Professor Johannes von Blomsterfeld, author of the controversial theological disquisition ‘The Return of the Divine Mary’. After returning to his deceased grandfather’s castle following seven years on the road in search of fortune as a circus performer, Michael constructs the ultimate circus ‘machine’ – a contraption containing, in miniature, all of the circus’s greatest acts – and sets off to enchant the world with his ‘Circus of the Divine Order’.

Meanwhile, Mary, Christ’s University’s greatest scholar, is on the run. On the eve of defending her doctoral thesis, Mary finds that her dissertation, as well as all proof of her existence – down to the very print on her ID card – has disappeared, and the authorities suspect wrongdoing.

The meeting of these two eccentrics leads to an unlikely collaboration, (as Mary becomes first Michael’s assistant, and soon the star of his show), a passionate love affair, and finally a tragic adventure as the duo is pursued by an angry mob that wants to silence speculations that Mary might, in fact, be the reincarnation of the Holy Mother.

While the world of the novel is left open to interpretation – there are computers and cars in this world, but beyond that, the universe presented could just as well be pre-Christian, Medieval or even futuristic – the central question remains captivating. How would we receive the suggestion that a pure being, possibly the mother of God, was alive and operating within our midst? Disbelief seems to be the prevalent attitude, stretching to venomous indignation, tempered only by a minority core of passionate support.

Bjarnason invites us to re-explore a story so familiar to us that we have lost sight of its astonishing strangeness and beauty. In the character of Mary, he presents us with a beautiful, fascinating, demure and very human incarnation of holiness and drops her at the centre of vicious intrigue that ultimately leads to her obliteration.
Indeed, the final disappearance of Mary suggests an indictment of the restrictions of our own imaginations. Unable to contain the idea of holiness, or the possibility of divinity in the broadest sense, we devise devious, rational means for destroying that which may be our salvation. As such, The Return of the Divine Mary appears as a passionate plea for the primacy of the imagination and the need for belief – be it sacred or profane – as intellectual challenge, as spiritual growth, and above all as a vital humanising impulse.


"Bjarni Bjarnasson hat mit „Die Rückkehr der Jungfrau Maria“ ein Werk voller Menschlichkeit, Poesie und Wunder geschaffen, welches mit farbenfroher Sprache, zu einem kleinen Meisterwerk wird. Ein tiefsinniges Werk mit Allegorie und der Fähigkeit den Leser zu berühren. Intelligent und einzigartig!" Skys Buchrezensionen August 2012

Deutscher Radiopreis
Favorit Buch
Die Rückkehr der Jungfrau Maria
von Bjarni Bjarnason

Der isländische Autor Bjarni Bjarnason schrieb den Roman „Die Rückkehr der Jungfrau Maria“ vor 16 Jahren. Jetzt liegt die deutsche Übersetzung vor; und Literaturagentin Lydia Herms hat sie gelesen.

Die Rückkehr der Jungfrau Maria von Bjarni Bjarnason (Tropen Verlag)
Michael von Blomsterfeld wollte Wissenschaftler werden, so wie sein Großvater Johannes, ein Theologe mit ausgeprägtem Faible für das Unerklärbare. Doch ein seltsamer Traum bringt beide Leben durcheinander. Johannes darf nicht mehr als Theologie-Professor arbeiten und zerbricht daran, Michael lässt von seinem Berufswunsch Wissenschaftler ab und wird Zauberer. Eines Tages begegnet der Zauberer Michael einer jungen Frau namens Maria – und sieht sich mit dem verhängnisvollen und fleischgewordenen Traum seines Großvaters konfrontiert, mit der Jungfrau Maria, so rein und schön wie das Licht. Göttlich.

Der Autor Bjarni Bjarnason (geb. 1965) veröffentlichte den Roman „Die Rückkehr der Jungfrau Maria“ in Island vor 16 Jahren. Jetzt liegt die deutsche Übersetzung vor. Auf jeder einzelnen Seite liefert Bjarnason Impulse, alles zu hinterfragen: Was und woran glaube ich? So wie Michael von Blomsterfeld für sich festlegen muss, was oder wer Maria für ihn ist und welche Wichtigkeit die Ansichten seines Großvater für ihn haben, so muss der Leser festlegen, was er da liest. Und sieht. Das Cover des Romans malte der deutsche Maler Norbert Bisky. Dieses Buch ist in jeder Hinsicht eine Empfehlung. Und ein Genuss.

Lydia Herms