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When the Americans make an offer to buy land in Iceland to build a NATO airbase after World War II, a storm of protest is provoked throughout the country. The airbase provides Laxness with the catalyst for his astonishing and powerful satire. Narrated by a country girl from the north, the novel follows her experiences after she takes up employment as a maid in the house of her Member of Parliament. Marvelling at the customs and behaviour of the people around her, she emerges as the one obstinate reality in a world of unreality. Her observations and experiences expose the bourgeois society of the south as rootless and shallow and in stark contrast to the age-old culture of the solid and less fanciful north. A witty and moving satire on politics and politicians, Communists and anti-Communists, phoney culture fiends, big business and all the pretensions of authority, Laxness' masterpiece of social commentary is as relevant today as when it was written in 1948.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099455158
ISBN-10: 0099455153
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 12mm)
Pages: 192
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 4-Mar-2004
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions


UK Kirkus Review » First translated into English by Magnus Magnusson in 1961, Laxness's lyrical satire on the American military presence on Iceland after World War II had already helped gain him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1955. The American decision to impose a NATO base on the island is seen through the eyes of a maid working for her local Member of Parliament. She not only represents the simple resistance to authority, and, therefore, American imperialism, but the clash of cultures north and south, between the powerless and the organised power like big business. Laxness' style reflects this clash, with his inner turmoil against the communist outsider, his cynicism and the lyrical folk tradition and his anger alongside gentleness. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - Halldor Laxness

HALLDOR LAXNESS (1902-98) was born near Reykjavik, Iceland. His first novel was published when he was 17. The undisputed master of contemporary Icelandic fiction and one of the outstanding novelists of the twentieth century, his work was translated into more than 30 languages. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1955.

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