Christmas Book Flood | Recommending reading

Iceland’s Bell

5 Iceland's BellStand-alone novel

This book is included in The Icelanders Cometh crowdfunding campaign run by the Jolabokaflod Book Campaign to raise money for UK libraries to spend on titles translated into English by Icelandic authors to mark World Book Night and UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright Day.


At the close of the 17th century, Iceland is an oppressed Danish colony, suffering under extreme poverty, famine, and plague. A farmer and accused cord-thief named Jon Hreggvidsson makes a bawdy joke about the Danish king and soon after finds himself a fugitive charged with the murder of the king’s hangman.

Sometimes grim, sometimes uproarious, and always captivating, Iceland’s Bell by Nobel Laureate Halldór Laxness is at once an updating of the traditional Icelandic saga and a caustic social satire.


‘Now we have, brought forth into the light, this darkly magnificent novel.’ Brad Liethauser, The New York Times

‘In many ways, Iceland’s Bell isn’t a modern novel. And that is its great strength.’ Kirkus Reviews

‘When Laxness was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1955, the Swedish Academy’s citation was: For his vivid epic power, which has renewed the great narrative art of Iceland. None of his novels embodies that spirit more stirringly than Iceland’s Bell.’ Richard Bratby, Laxness in Translation

‘Iceland’s Bell creates a Dickensian canvas of heroism and venality, violence and tragedy, charged with narrative enchantment on every page.’ Buffalo & Erie County Library