THE BOOK YOU HAVE TO READ
Adam Haslett recommends Independent People by Halldor Laxness
Quick: Anyone want to read a 500-page novel about a dirt-poor Icelandic sheepherder? Unlikely as it may sound, the answer should be a resounding Yes! In the 1934 novel Independent People Laxness (who won the Nobel in 1955) gives us the epic tale of…a farmer determined to live by his own rules despite hardship and deprivation, and his daughter, who struggles to escape her father’s world. It may be the most honest book about poverty ever penned, totally lacking in sentimentality and written with such transporting beauty that it will linger with you for years. A real giant of 20th-century literature, and a great read.
Adam Haslett wrote You Are Not a Stranger Here, which Jonathan Franzen recommended on the Today show book club (see page 23).