"This is a remarkable achievement and will hopefully lead to a revival of interest in an oft-overlooked literary genius." - Publishers Weekly, starred review
A fresh translation of Nobel Prize-winning author Halldór Laxness's modernist masterpiece, Salka Valka.
A feminist coming of age tale, an elegy to the plight of the working class and the corrosive effects of social and economic inequality, and a poetic window into the arrival of modernity in a tiny industrial town, Salka Valka is a novel of epic proportions, living and breathing with its expansive cast of characters, filled with tenderness, humor, and remarkable pathos.
On a mid-winter night, an eleven-year-old Salvör and her unmarried mother Sigurlína disembark at the remote, run-down fishing village of Óseyri, where life is "lived in fish and consists of fish." The two women struggle to make their way amidst the domineering, salt-worn men of the town and their unsolicited attention, and, after Sigurlína's untimely death, Salvör pays for her funeral and walks home alone, precipitating her coming of age as a daring, strong-willed young woman who chops off her hair, earns her own wages, educates herself through political and philosophical texts, and, most significantly, becomes an advocate for the town's working class, ultimately organizing a local chapter of the seamen's union.
"Nowhere in Laxness's novels is the conflict between the shining ideal of socialism and the dignity of individual people on plainer display than in Salka Valka... It never even occurs to Salka that the bastards might grind her down." -- Salvatore Scibona, The New Yorker
About this Author
Halldór Laxness (1902-1998) is the undisputed master of modern Icelandic fiction. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1955 "for his vivid epic power which has renewed the great narrative art of Iceland." His body of work includes novels, essays, poems, plays, stories, and memoirs: more than sixty books in all. His works available in English include Independent People, The Fish Can Sing, World Light, Under the Glacier, Iceland's Bell, and Paradise Reclaimed.
Philip Roughton is an award-winning translator of Icelandic literature. His translations include works by many of Iceland's best-known writers, including Laxness, Jón Kalman Stefánsson, Bergsveinn Birgisson, Steinunn Sigurðardóttir, and others. He was awarded the 2015 American-Scandinavian Foundation Translation Competition Prize, for his translation of Laxness' novel Gerpla (Wayward Heroes), the Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize for 2016, for his translation of Jón Kalman Stefánsson's The Heart of Man, and an NEA Literature Translation Fellowship for 2017.
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