September Books 4) Independent People, by Halldór Laxness
I've read a couple of other books set in Iceland - an unusually dull one by the otherwise reliable Jane Smiley, and of course Njal's Saga. Independent People, which more or less won Laxness his 1955 Nobel Prize, is halfway between them; a tale of an exceptionally stubborn farmer who attempts to maintain his self-respect through grinding poverty and family disasters, not caring in the least what his neighbours or relatives think about him. He's not a particularly attractive character but the society and landscape of Iceland are brilliantly evoked. Given recent events, the fact that evil Icelandic banks pop up at the end of the story was interesting. Also note that for Iceland, the First World War was undoubtedly a Good Thing because wool prices went up causing an export boom. Lots of poignant passages too, of which the one about the calf sticks in my mind. A somewhat grim read but more interesting than some of the Nobel winners I have sampled.