Panel: Halldór Laxness's "Salka Valka," with Philip Roughton, Will Chancellor & Ezra Goldstein

July 19, 2022, 5:00 PM

Join translator Philip Roughton for a panel discussion of Nobel Prize-winner Halldor Laxness's novel Salka Valka, in conversation with author and critic Will Chancellor and Community Bookstore owner-emeritus Ezra Goldstein. This event is brought to you in partnership with our friends at Third Place Books in Seattle and the Transnational Literature Series at Brookline Booksmith. Register here:

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On a winter night, an eleven-year-old Salvör and her unmarried mother Sigurlína disembark at the remote, run-down fishing village of Óseyri, where life is “lived in fish and consists of fish.” The two struggle to make their way amidst the rough, salt-worn men of the town. After Sigurlína’s untimely death, Salvör pays for her funeral and walks home alone, precipitating her coming of age as a daring, strong-willed young woman who chops off her hair, earns her own wages, educates herself through political and philosophical texts, and soon becomes an advocate for the town’s working class, organizing a local chapter of the seamen’s union. A feminist coming-of-age tale, an elegy to the plight of the working class and the corrosive effects of social and economic inequality, and a poetic window into the arrival of modernity in a tiny industrial town, Salka Valka is a novel of epic proportions, living and breathing with its vibrant cast of characters, filled with tenderness, humor, and remarkable pathos.

Philip Roughton has translated the work of Halldór Laxness, Jón Kalman Stefánsson, Kristín Marja Baldursdóttir and many others. He has been awarded the American-Scandinavian Foundation Translation Prize for his rendering of Laxness’s work twice, in 2001 for Iceland’s Bell and again in 2015 for Wayward Heroes. He also received the 2016 Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize for his translation of Jón Kalman Stefánsson’s The Heart of Man. He lives in Iceland.

Will Chancellor is an author of the novel A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall. He studied political theory and environmental policy at Stanford, later finished his post-grad work in Physics and Ancient Greek. Chancellor has written for Bookforum, Buzzfeed, Electric Literature, Interview Magazine, The Rumpus, and The Scofield, among others. He currently works as an editor of fiction column for Brooklyn Rail and is writing his second novel.

Ezra Goldstein was a co-owner of Community Bookstore and Terrace Books in Brooklyn. Prior to running the stores, Goldstein spent 40 years of his career as a writer for local newspapers, including the Long Island Jewish World. He was a freelance editor and writer, and helped ghostwrite memoirs for some local Holocaust survivors.