Independent People was not reissued in the United States until 1997, after half a century out of print. Even today, fewer than a dozen of Laxness’s sixty-odd books are available in English.
Iceland was ruled by Norway from the middle of the thirteenth century until the Protestant Reformation, at which time it became a Danish colony. It won limited home rule in 1874 and state sovereignty in 1918, though it remained in a “union” with Denmark until June 1944, when it declared itself a republic. Given that this occurred while Nazis ruled in Copenhagen and the Allies were using what is now Keflavík Airport as a military base, the young republic’s survival was anything but certain, especially once it became clear that the hot war would be replaced by a cold one.
The Icelandic letter Þ is pronounced like the th in “thorn,” and the ð like the th in “breathe.”