Salka Valka


Translated from by

Published: Coming March 8, 2022


ISBN: 9781953861245 eISBN:9781953861252
This item will be released on March 8, 2022.


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Book Description

From Nobel Prize winner Halldór Laxness


On a 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 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.

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

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

A brooding novel of boreal discontentments by the Nobel Prize–winning Icelandic writer. Sigurlína Jónsdóttir has always been down on her luck. She decides to leave the frozen north coast of Iceland with her 11-year-old daughter, Salvör Valgerður, or Salka, whose father is unknown to her—and to Sigurlína, a sometime prostitute, as well. They get just a few miles south to a ramshackle fishing village, where they discover the manifold class divisions of early-20th-century Iceland. . . There’s a poetry to Laxness’s depiction of a frayed mother-daughter relationship . . . [Salka Valka is] full of his trademark intersections of politics and religion.
Kirkus Reviews

Praise for Wayward Heroes

A welcome, major contribution to modern Nordic literature in translation and a pleasure to read.
Kirkus, Starred Review

Brilliant, bleak, uproariously funny, and still alarmingly prescient, Wayward Heroes belongs in the pantheon of the antiwar novel alongside such touchstones as Slaughterhouse-Five and Catch-22.... Wayward Heroes, with its despotic kings, hypocrite Christians, and bloodthirsty mercenaries, is not merely a medieval epic ... but a trenchant critique of that timeless avaricious urge we have grown regrettably accustomed to calling 'market forces.' ... Laxness looked from the ancient literature of his homeland to the novelties and cataclysms of the modern world around him, only to discover how little had changes in a thousand years.
Justin Taylor, Harper's Magazine

Drawing on historical events, including King Olaf’s reign in Norway and the burning of Chartres Cathedral, Laxness revises and renews the bloody sagas of Icelandic tradition, producing not just a spectacular historical novel but one of coal-dark humor and psychological depth. The old-fashioned violence Porgeir and Pormóður admire is rendered in all its futility and cruelty, and readers will find that these honorable but deluded heroes become objects of pity.
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review