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iceland

The Fish Can Sing
by Halldór Laxness

A friend of mine handed me this book and at first I fell in love with the cover: a beautiful painting of an Icelandic village, sea and mountains by Louisa Matthiasdottir (another artist I didn’t know). Halldór Laxness won the Nobel Prize in 1955, yet I had never heard of him and what a shame. This work, The Fish Can Sing, is like nothing I have read previously. Part saga, part myth, part humor, it captures the stories and sense of old Iceland and yet does it with fun and a quirky literary style. It is important to take your time with this book. It demands it and you will be well rewarded with the story, language and descriptions of an Iceland that lives on in his writing. I look forward to delving into Laxness’ other works of fiction.

medallion

“Laxness is a beacon in twentieth-century literature, a writer of splendid originality, wit, and feeling.” – Alice Munro

“Enchanting … This novel is a true pleasure.” – The Independent

"It is strange, considering how intimately I knew Brekkukot, so intimately indeed that I felt I had lived there even before I was born, and despite the fact that this woman, my grandmother, had taught me how to speak and think and ended by teaching me to read – it came as a complete surprise to me when someone told me many years later that she had never had a bed to sleep in, in her own home. I then had to acknowledge that the only times I had ever seen her asleep were in her kitchen when she was sitting on the lower stone of the hearth, which jutted out a little, and leaning back against the upper stone; her head would sink forward and her hands with their knitting would drop into her lap and the restless needles would be stilled for a while; and there was only a faint glimmer in the fireplace.” – The Fish Can Sing, Vintage International, 2008 edition.