By Beth Finnson
The first Samtal Hour of 2023 was hosted by Becky Byerly Adams and featured a presentation by Heather Goodman Lytwyn who started our Icelandic Roots Book Club last year. For those of you who don’t know Heather, she taught English Literature for 30 years and, as you already guessed, she loves books!
Last year the book club was held monthly on the first Thursday of the month in the evenings. In 2023, based on member input, the schedule has been revised for only the months of January through May, then a summer hiatus, with the club events returning for September through November. The club will still meet on the first Thursday of the month and at the same times as last year, depending on your time zone.
During the Samtal discussion, everyone said they enjoyed the authors that joined us and read excerpts from their books. Heather will continue to encourage authors to join the discussion for the 2023 schedule, although some authors won’t be available, especially Halldór Laxness, since he passed away in 1998. Incidentally, his IR# is I242781, and he is my 7th cousin.
Heather recommended searching for the titles early to make sure you can find a copy in time to read it. I found all these books on Amazon and I always look for used versions. Kindle versions are another option. Other resources are used bookstores, your
local library (maybe even an interlibrary loan), abebooks.com, or powells.com
Here are the selections for 2023:
February 2: Jason Doctor will join us to discuss the Hrafnkels saga Freysgoða found in our database:
Go to Special Collections/select Sagas Alphabetically / select # 23 /select read the Saga. then select English or Icelandic language.
March 2: Alfreda Jonsdottir will join us to discuss her latest novel Prophetic Dreams: A Curse or a Legacy, published in 2022. Although a work of fiction, the
protagonist “ is a prominent figure in the Laxdaela Saga where her story was written
down in the 13th century CE.” Alfreda’s previous publications are Melkorka: The
Thrall Princessa’s Saga, and A Viking Queen’s Legacy.
April 5: Cathy Josephson will join us to discuss The Windows of Brimmes: An American in Iceland, by Bill Holm. Cathy is Bill’s cousin.
May 4: Philip Roughton will join us to discuss Salka Valka published in English in 2022. Philip translated this into English. The original was written by Halldór Laxness in the 1930s. On the back cover of Phil’s translation reviewer Anne Proulx said “Salka Valka is my favorite Halldór Laxness book.” You can see an interview filmed June 21, 2022, called “ Salka Valkaby Halldór Laxness: Philip Roughton and Doug Mcintyre-You Tube.”
September 7: Dare to Share Month - bring a book you love to the club and tell us why it made an impact on you. Heather will begin the discussion with Joan Clark's novel Eiriksdottir-A Tale of Dreams and Luck first published in 1994, and republished in 2009. It’s about Freydis, Eric the Red’s daughter who was on one of the two ships that set out from Greenland and settled in Newfoundland.
October 5: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. This is her first novel and the result of a Rotary Exchange trip to Iceland in 1985 where the true story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir inspired the author. Charged with the brutal murder of two men, Agnes was sent to live on an isolated farm in northern Iceland to await execution. One can understand how Hannah began to wonder what the family on the farm and what this woman went through. In the event that Heather is unsuccessful in booking the author, Sunna
Furstenau has agreed to help us discuss this novel which is a favorite of hers.
November 2: Nancy Marie Brown will join us to discuss her book The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrier Women.
Heather added that she is ready to tackle a major work in 2024. She suggests members start hunting for a copy of Independent People by Halldór Laxness.
On the next Samtal Hour:
Join guest host Becky Byerly Adams on January 30th. Her guest will be Rob Olason. He will talk about the new Icelandic Roots offering Members Helping Members. This is a new program for 2023 that gives IR database users an online opportunity to share their challenges using the database software and for other members to offer solutions. Members helping members is intended to be a once-a-month "help desk" where members support one another in learning how to use the powerful IR database.
Lorne Hallgrimson will also join the program to share new modifications to the user menu design for the Icelandic Roots database.