Other Free Encyclopedias » Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern Fiction » Books & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (Ke-Ma)

Laxness, Halldór

masterpiece sheep

(Icelandic, 1902–98)

Novelist Laxness, born near Reykjavik, is not the most approachable of writers. His masterpiece, Independent People (1934–5; English translation 1946) is massive and cold and bare, and events in the narrative are scarce. There's a great deal of sheep-farming and crags and winter. But it is also an immensely rewarding read if you take the trouble. Laxness’ characters, especially the obstinate, difficult sheep-farmer, Bjartur, are among the most realistic (and human and infuriating) that you're likely to meet in a novel; and the atmosphere, while bleak, is breathtaking. You'll see at once what the committee were celebrating when they awarded him the Nobel Prize in 1955. If you need something to help you to build up the courage before tacking The Masterpiece, try The Fish Can Sing (1957; Engl. tr. 1966), which is less daunting but no less stunning.

Knut Hamsun, Patrick White, Peter Høeg  DHa

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