The Swan by Gudbergur Bergsson

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Winner of the 1991 Icelandic Literary Prize, The Swan is a masterful work by one of Iceland's most accomplished novelists and one of its leading fictional innovators. A nine-year old girl is sent to live and work on a country farm to serve her probation for shiplifting, a common form of punishment in Iceland. There, in a powerful, unchanging landscape, she experiences a community torn between ancient tradition and new attitudes. She confronts new and painful feelings and has to face the unknown within herself and her alien surroundings. The contrasts that Bergsson carefully develops throughout the novel, between the grotesque and the beautiful, the comical and the dramatic, come to a powerful conclusion in an almost surreal confrontation by a lake between the girl, the swan, and a lamb.

About Gudbergur Bergsson

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Bernard Scudder lives in Reykjavk as a full-time translator. His translations encompass sagas, ancient and modern poetry, and leading contemporary novels and plays. Svanhildur Oscarsdttir has a research post at the rni Magnsson Institute in Reykjavk, Iceland.
Published March 1, 1998 by Mare's Nest. 152 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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This limpid novel, which won for its Icelandic author his country's 1991 Literary Prize, tells in a lyrical style replete with sensuous descriptive passages and quirky metaphors the story of a nine-year-old girl punished for shoplifting by incarceration on a rustic ""work farm."" In fact, her new...

Mar 30 1998 | Read Full Review of The Swan

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Publishers Weekly

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Caught between ancient traditions and new technology and ""drawn to the ecstasy fright can bring,"" she empathizes with the farm animals, particularly the thoroughbred horses Iceland is famous for, and eventually has an epiphany that helps her come to terms with the ""vast hopelessness that was t...

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