Each month, the Elliott Bay Fiction Book Club reads and discusses the best in contemporary fiction with the occasional classic thrown in for good measure. For the months of November and December, we have selected Halldór Laxness's Independent People. The first half will be discussed in November and the second half on Tuesday, December 4th. "This magnificent novelwhich secured for its author the 1955 Novel Prize in Literatureis at last available to contemporary American Readers. Although it is set in the early twentieth century. It recalls both Iceland's medieval epics and such classics as Sigrid Undset's Kristin Lavransdatter. And if Bjartur of Summerhouses, the book's protagonist, is an ordinary sheep farmer, his flinty determination to achieve independence is genuinely heroic, and at the same time, terrifying and bleakly comic.
Having spent eighteen years in humiliating servitude, Bjartur wants nothing more than to raise his flocks unbeholden to any man. But Bjartur's spirited daughter wants to live unbeholden to him. What ensues is a battle of wills that is by turns harsh and touching, elemental in its emotional intensity and intimate in its homely detail. Vast in scope and deeply rewarding, Independent People is a masterpiece."