Tattered Cover Book Store's Reviews > Gente Independente

Gente Independente by Halldór Laxness
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's review
Dec 10, 2008

bookshelves: staff-recommends, award-prize-winners
Recommended to Tattered Cover by: Keith

Not your run of the mill epic, father-daughter-sheep story told with great skill. Grim and absurd! Mighty yet lean, with a dollop of magical realism for flavor, IP is an under-read classic!

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message 5: by Phillip (new)

Phillip What the heck is a father-daughter-sheep story?

Tattered Cover Book Store I've sent your question to Keith, who will get back to you ASAP (only a few of us do the "data entry" for the rest of the staff and their recommends). Please bear in mind that it is the holiday season, and quite busy for us, so it may take a bit longer than we'd like since we LOVE to talk about books.

Until then, I've included a snippet of the Publisher's Weekly review of the book: "Originally published in 1946 and out of print for decades, this book by the Nobel Prize-winning Icelandic author is a huge, skaldic treat filled with satire, humor, pathos, cold weather and sheep." It concerns a widower, his baby daughter, and their sheep.

Jackie, writing for Tattered Cover.

Tattered Cover Book Store I've just had a lovely chat with Keith about this book--which he says may just be his all time favorite. It is the story of a simple man who refuses to be beholden to anyone and just wants to tend his flocks of sheep in peace, seeing this a an ideal of freedom and sometimes taking things to the extreme. His daughter, equally strong willed, wishes to be free of her father. It's epic in scope, definitely a family saga, frequently funny and very thought provoking. Keith says he rereads parts of it frequently and often finds gems within it that he's forgotten or missed before. He says he just can't recommend it highly enough.

As an additional note, this book won the 1955 Nobel Prize in Literature.


Jackie writing for Tattered Cover and specifically Keith

message 2: by Phillip (new)

Phillip I am humbled. I thought you meant a farmboy meets sheep story. Wasn't sure how the daughter fit in.

message 1: by Abi (last edited Jun 07, 2009 12:58PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Abi Ásta Sóllilja does not want to be free of her father! That's a complete misreading. She craves his love and approval and he is a man who is incapable of expressing love, love her though he does. Needless to say, Sóla ends up pretty emotionally fucked up, but only on a very minor level does she wish to be free of Bjartur.
The relationship between the two is the strongest in the book. After the separation it is both extremely touching and frustrating how the two miss each other terribly and long to be together again, but cannot overcome their own stubbornness. It's a tragic story of a man who drives away everything he loves and is the destroyer of his own life because of his own stoicism, pride and principles. The other children come into it as well; Helgi, who hates his tyrannical father and rebels in the only way open to him; Gvendur, the materialist who idolises his father, and Nonni, my favourite character, who has been given a dream by his mother and who wishes for other countries and to sing for the whole world.

Although they're not as important as Sóla, who incidentally is always known to not be Bjartur's real daughter. That's a subtle undercurrent in their relationship. You have to read the novel yourself, really.
It's the most wonderful gorgeous heart-breaking novel ever written. I also reread parts frequently and recommend it to just about everyone who'll listen.

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