Laxness, Iceland's best-known fiction writer and winner of the 1955 Nobel Prize for literature, authored well over 60 novels and other books before his death in 1998 at the age of 90. This lyrical novel, first published in English in 1966 (nine years after its original publication in Iceland), concerns a boy named Alfgr¡mur Hannson of Brekkukot, the humble fishing cottage where he is raised by adoptive grandparents. The novel's plot--if so formal a term may be used to describe the tale's slow and meandering progress through Alfgr¡mur's uneventful youth--involves an Icelandic singing star known as Gardar H¢lm. All Iceland, except for H¢lm's own mother and the folks at Brekkukot, dote on H¢lm because of his international reputation for performing lieder. Yet few have ever heard him sing--the beloved H¢lm is growing old and he is mysteriously elusive. Young Alfgr¡mur may also be a gifted singer, and he tracks H¢lm down assiduously. Once he finds him, however, he learns that singing is only one way of seeking "the one true note"--and he who has heard that note never sings again. Laxness portrays the backwardness of turn-of-the-century Iceland with gentle humor and irony. Tiny Iceland needs its "singing fish"--celebrities like Gardar H¢lm, and perhaps Alfgr¡mur Hannson--but the moral of Laxness's lovely fable references a simpler sentiment: glory may just as well be sought in the humblest walks of life.
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“This weird and wonderful novel is Laxness at his best: a reminder of the mad hilarity of the Icelandic sensibility.” —Nicholas Shakespeare
"Enchanting . . . .This novel is a true pleasure." —The Independent (London)
"Laxness is a beacon in twentieth-century literature, a writer of splendid originality, wit, and feeling." —Alice Munro
Laxness's prose is poetry. This particular novel is wry, and touching.Published 2 months ago by nora hope
This novel is a narrative of the life of an Icelandic boy, a diary of episodes about his life and the zany characters he encounters. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Kermit Carraway
much info on life in Iceland and views on life and history, loved the booilkPublished 5 months ago by Inge McAfee
For years now I’ve loved the work of Halldor Laxness, Iceland’s pre-eminent man of letters, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1955 but now is seldom read. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Guttersnipe Das