Published in 1952, Wayward Heroes is part of the body of works for which Laxness was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1955. It is a masterfully written tragicomedy about the oath-brothers Thorgeir and Thormod, inspired by the old Icelandic sagas Saga of the Sworn Brothers and Saga of Saint Olaf. The brothers fight for glory, raid for treasure, and seduce women against the backdrop of a new cult of Christianity. But where the old sagas depict their heroes as glorious champions, Laxness does the opposite. As Thormod avenges Thorgeir's death, he demonstrates the senselessness of violence and the endlessly cyclical nature of obsession.
Halldór Laxness (1902-1998) is the undisputed master of modern Icelandic fiction. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1955 "for his vivid epic power which has renewed the great narrative art of Iceland." His body of work includes novels, essays, poems, plays, stories, and memoirs: more than sixty books in all. His works available in English include Independent People, The Fish Can Sing, World Light, Under the Glacier, Iceland's Bell, and Paradise Reclaimed.
About the translator: Philip Roughton's translation of Iceland's Bell received the American-Scandinavian Foundation Translation Prize in 2001 and second prize in the 2000 BCLA John Dryden Translation Competition. His translation of Halldór Guðmundsson's The Islander: A Biography of Halldór Laxness was recently released in the United Kingdom.