Synopses & Reviews
A major work of contemporary fiction from a “leading light of international literature” (Publishers Weekly, starred review), Hanne Ørstavik, whose last novel, Love, won the PEN Translation Prize.
A thought-provoking, existential novel – as Liv searches for meaning and identity in her own life, she must find the words to connect, comfort and lead others.
Liv, an intense and reticent theologian, moves to a bitterly cold fishing village to take up a post as the church’s new pastor following the death of her friend, Kristiane. In the upper rooms of a large house overlooking the fjord, Liv plans her sermons and studies the violent interplay of Norway’s Christian colonial past. She trails downstairs into the apartment below for dinners and breakfasts with a widow and her two children. As Liv becomes acquainted with the villagers and their own private tragedies, memories bloom in passages that urgently question the unpredictable bedrock of language, and the peculiar channels of imagined experience as it might have been, if only there had been a different set of words, or an outstretched hand.
The past mingles darkly with the present, cascading in chilling images: a dog lying dead in the snowy plains, Kristiane’s teeth flashing as she laughs, a procession of singing, knife-carrying protesters curving along a river’s edge. Martin Aitken’s translation of this extraordinary novel rings with the brilliance and rigor of a master.
“In Ørstavik’s deeply thoughtful and captivating latest (after Love), a woman spends a year in Kjøllefjord, Norway, as an assistant pastor... The various threads shuffle seamlessly in Liv’s head and build to a heartbreaking crescendo, filled in with brilliant descriptions of the flat landscape (a church above the fjord sits “brilliantly white... on a dish of darkness”). Ørstavik distinguishes herself as a leading light in international literature.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
About the Author
Hanne Ørstavik, one of the most admired and prominent writers in contemporary Norwegian fiction, published her first novel Cut in 1994. Ørstavik has written a number of acclaimed novels that have been translated into more than 16 languages. She has been awarded a host of literary prizes, including the Dobloug Prize, presented annually for Swedish and Norwegian fiction by the Swedish Academy. The English translation of Love was a finalist for a National Book Award.
Martin Aitken has translated numerous novels from Danish and Norwegian, including works by Karl Ove Knausgaard, Peter Høeg, Helle Helle, and Kim Leine. In 2012, he was awarded the American-Scandinavian Foundation’s Nadia Christensen Translation Prize. The National Book Foundation wrote of his translation of Love, “The aerial beauty of Martin Aitken’s translation contributes to make the novel a successful rarity.” His translation won the PEN Translation Prize.