i'm not sure i've ever hated a book so much in my life. by that i don't mean it's bad (surely one cannot be awarded a nobel prize for having written badly) and i don't mean it's not worth reading. what i mean is that there is just enough in this novel that is gripping to make it impossible to give up, and yet the entire time i read it i passionately wished to be doing almost anything else. this is a horrible book filled with horrible people and horrible history. it is bleak and unrelenting and absolutely no one in the entire damn thing is likeable. the conditions these characters live in are hideous, utterly abject poverty. they are in every way pitiable, but particularly every soul who is born to or caught up in the life of bjartur. his misogyny and the way he treats his children are appalling. his livestock is literally more important to him than any other person. he's completely devoid of anything approaching compassion or love, and while one can hardly blame him, given the life he's endured, i certainly can't forgive him. his pride is what keeps him alive and ensures everyone else's destruction. his pride is his folly and his downfall and everything that makes him ridiculous. i wish i'd never met him and his blight.