On June 21, translator Philip Roughton joins us with Doug McIntyre for a discussion on celebrated Icelandic novelist and Nobel Prize Laureate Halldór Laxness’s novel Salka Valka, out June 7 in new translation from Archipelago!
On a winter night, an 11-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 struggle to make their way amidst the rough, salt-worn men of the town. 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 soon becomes an advocate for the town’s working class, organizing a local chapter of the seamen’s union.
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 vibrant cast of characters, filled with tenderness, humor, and remarkable pathos.
This event will take place as a Zoom webinar; please ask questions in the chat or send them in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration is required; please sign up at the link above. This conversation will be recorded and available later to stream on our Virtual Programming page and on our YouTube channel.
“Laxness brought the Icelandic novel out from the sagas’ shadow… to read Laxness is also to understand why he haunts Iceland—he writes the unearthly prose of a poet cased in the perfection of a shell of plot, wit, and clarity”—The Guardian
About the Speakers
Halldór Laxness (1902-1998) is the undisputed master of modern Icelandic fiction. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1955. His body of work includes novels, essays, poems, plays, stories, and memoirs: more than 60 books in all. His works available in English include Independent People, The Fish Can Sing, World Light, Under the Glacier, The Great Weaver from Kashmir, and Wayward Heroes.
Philip Roughton is an award-winning translator of Icelandic literature. His translations include works by Laxness, Jón Kalman Stefánsson, Bergsveinn Birgisson, Steinunn Sigurðardóttir, and others. He was awarded the 2015 American-Scandinavian Foundation Translation Prize for his translation of Wayward Heroes and the Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize for 2016 for his translation of Jón Kalman Stefánsson’s The Heart of Man.
Doug McIntyre is the principal Opinion Columnist for the Southern California News Group which includes the Los Angeles Daily News, Orange Country Register, and San Bernardino Sun, among others. In 2010, Doug was named “Best Columnist” by the California Newspaper Publishers Association.
He has also written for many other publications including the Los Angeles Times, LA Jazz Scene, and The Bridgeport Post. Doug’s debut novel Frank’s Shadow (Greenleaf Books) will be published in 2023.