The Atom Station, Paperback Book
2 out of 5 (1 rating)


When the Americans make an offer to buy land in Iceland to build a NATO airbase after World War II, a storm of protest is provoked throughout the country.

The airbase provides Laxness with the catalyst for his astonishing and powerful satire.

Narrated by a country girl from the north, the novel follows her experiences after she takes up employment as a maid in the house of her Member of Parliament.

Marvelling at the customs and behaviour of the people around her, she emerges as the one obstinate reality in a world of unreality.

Her observations and experiences expose the bourgeois society of the south as rootless and shallow and in stark contrast to the age-old culture of the solid and less fanciful north.

A witty and moving satire on politics and politicians, Communists and anti-Communists, phoney culture fiends, big business and all the pretensions of authority, Laxness' masterpiece of social commentary is as relevant today as when it was written in 1948.


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One of Laxness's shorter and possibly more accessible books, Atom Station is a satire on post-war society, politics and authority. Even though it is short, it needs to be read carefully, as much of Laxness's writing here stirs further reflection. It is very good at highlighting the clash between the northern Icelandic serving girl and the southern politicians and city-dwellers whose lives and idiosyncrasies are a source of amusement. Often, though I found it difficult to read mainly because of its disjointedness and slightly surreal nature. However, this should not deter me from either re-reading it or attempting some of Laxness's longer novels.

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