In October I’ll make my first-ever visit to Reykjavik to attend the Arctic Circle Assembly. If all goes well, I’ll be setting up research in Iceland next year on how communities in the far north are coping with climate change.
To learn about Iceland, I’ve started reading Halldór Laxness’s Independent People, a Nobel Prize winning epic of a man and his sheep farm. I was hooked by the opening pages, which read like something out of an ancient Saga (“Troublesome as the mistress Gunnvor may have seemed in living life, she far surpassed her former evil conduct after her burial; she was considered to rest ill in the barrow and walked again on her farm.”). And hooked again by the mad energy of the main character who, as he surveys the land he’s earned through 18 years of hard labor, refuses its haunted and cursed nature. He raises a fist and shouts to the (imagined?) Gunnvor: “Hard shall it go with you to oppose my good fortune, old hag, for spectres never daunted me yet!”
Have you read Laxness? Would love to hear your thoughts! I also need recommendations on further reading, and viewing, as I prepare for this visit to the far north. Contemporary Icelandic authors? Compilations of Icelandic Sagas? Histories? Arctic expedition journals? What do you love? At Pangyrus, the magazine I edit, we’ve published poetry about Scandinavian crime shows, but I haven’t watched any. Where do I start? Let me know in the comments.