cover image World Light

World Light

Halldor Kiljan Laxness, Halldor Laxness. Vintage Books USA, $16.95 (624pp) ISBN 978-0-375-72757-3

Solitude and its consolations-fleeting moments of divine and earthly illumination-are the central themes of World Light, a massive novel by the Icelandic writer and Nobel laureate Halld""r Laxness. Released in trade paperback on the 100th anniversary of Laxness's birth, the novel tells the story of Olafur, an orphan boy who yearns to write poetry. His love for books-""he had a great longing to read... all the books in the world""-consoles him for his harsh treatment at the hands of his adoptive parents and accompanies him into adulthood as he contends with socialism and communism and an unhappy marriage. A new introduction by Sven Birkerts provides much useful background information and explication; the translation by Magnus Magnusson is fluent and accomplished.