Books: Against the Tide

THE FISH CAN SING by Halldor Laxness, translated by Magnus Magnusson. 286 pages. Crowe//. $5.95.

Iceland, a few generations ago, was hardly more than a storybook land ruled by the Danes—a seafarer's outpost cut adrift from the rest of civilization. Dandelions and buttercups grew on the turf roofs of cottages. Even hens' eggs tasted of fish. The people seemed dour, except when drunk on words or alcohol, and the only way that one could effectively insult a native was to call him a Dane.

It is this period that is warmly evoked by Novelist Halldor...

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