That birthday coupon and gift certificate were just burning a hole in my pocket (well, diaper bag...but you get the drift) so here is what the final outcome was when I visited Borders earlier tonight...
Halldor Laxness's Independent People. I went to the store with a list of at least 8 books. This is the ONLY one that was in stock and not out of print!
Of Independent People, Jane Smiley said: "I love this book. It is an unfolding wonder of artistic vision and skill - one of the best books of the twentieth century. I can't imagine any greater delight than coming to Independent People for the first time."
Brad Leithauser, in the introduction said: "There are good books and there are great books and there may be a book that is something still more: it is the book of your life...My favorite book by a living novelist is Independent People."
Ok, Brad and Jane, YOU'D BETTER BE RIGHT...OR ELSE!!!
Just kidding. This also comes highly recommended by Rose on the blog "Icelandic Fever, a Southern Saga". http://fooface.blogspot.com/ And she's a librarian, so she's GOT to be right! Right? And the fact that Laxness won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1955 for this book has to say something as well!
So...I'm off to start the journey of Independent People.