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Halldór Kiljan Laxness

Updated: Jan 15, 2020

On this day, 23. April 1902, Halldór Guðjónsson was born in Reykjavík. The family moved in 1905 to a farm where he grew up. At the age of 17, he published his first novel and over the years he wrote over 60 books.

Halldór took the surname Laxness to honor his boyhood home. In 1955, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. To this day, he remains the only Icelandic author to be granted this award. The Nobel Foundation site says, “The Nobel Prize in Literature 1955 was awarded to Halldór Laxness “for his vivid epic power which has renewed the great narrative art of Iceland”.” My favorite book by Halldór Laxness is Sjálfstætt fólk (Independent People), which gave him the nod for the Nobel Prize. If you have not read this book, put it at the top of your ‘to-do list.’

He had four children with three different women. His house is now a museum operated by the government of Iceland. Halldór died 08. February 1998 in Reykjavík. In 2004, Halldór Guðmundsson won the Icelandic literary prize for best work of non-fiction with his biography of Laxness, “The Islander: A Biography of Halldór Laxness.” This is also a book for your list.

So, today, we remember our Nobel Prize winner, Halldór Laxness on the anniversary of his birth. Til hamingju með afmælið (Happy Birthday)!

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