This is a story about Ketil, an old fisherman in the Faroe islands, who gets into debt by buying a large chunk of whale meat and then tries to live through the winter. His life is juxtaposed to that of his children, who are of a different, better adjusted, yet less soulful generation. A fantastic book that’s both incredibly original and unique to the place of occurrence, but also universal in detailing the trials and tribulations of the little man.
I wanted to read a book from the Faroe Islands, to become exposed to the region’s literature, and get a feel for the place. I got what I wanted in this novel, and then some. It’s a subtle, short, and efficiently written story about the clash of old age with youth, of the province with the empire, and of preindustrial society with capitalism. Heart-wrenching, funny, and very atmospheric.
The Old Man and His Sons by Heðin Brú
Translated by John F. West
Published by Telegram Books in 2011