Independent People

  • Epic Highlands

    Explore the setting of the greatest Icelandic novel of the twentieth century.

  • Independent People

    Poor farmers from Vopnafjordur inspired the novel that won the Nobel Prize in 1955.

Independent People, the epic Icelandic novel that won Halldor Laxness the Nobel Prize in 1955, was highly inspired by life in the highlands around Vopnafjordur.

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, poor farmers were forced to move to the mountains above Vopnafjordur, when they were not able to afford renting densely-populated farmland in the lowlands.

Independent People follows the struggles of Bjartur of Summerhouses, a stubborn sheep farmer and former servant, who lives in poverty with his family in the vast emptiness of the highlands. Despite hunger and extreme hardship, Bjartur never gives up. His sole aim is to retain his newly-gained independence whatever the cost. The story is deep and dramatic, but still the prose is full of sardonic humor, ensuring a highly entertaining read.

A visit to Vopnafjordur will take you right into the world of the greatest Icelandic novel of the twentieth century, and one of the world's all-time top hundred works of fiction as selected by 100 noted writers from 54 countries in 2002. Click here for the full list at

Learn more about Independent People:
New York Times article by Pulitzer Prize-Winner Annie Dillard
NPR article by Author Christina Sunley

Purchase Independent People in:
- English (US Edition) at
- English (UK Edition) at

- Danish at
- Dutch at
- German at
- French at
- Italian at
- Norwegian at
- Spanish at


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