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The Pastor by Hanne Ørstavik

December 7, 2021—6:00 pm7:00 pm

Read and discuss Scandinavian literature in translation as part of our Nordic Book Club, now online! Each month we select a novel from some of the best Nordic literary voices. On December 7, we’ll be discussing The Pastor by award-winning Norwegian novelist Hanne Ørstavik, who recently joined us for a virtual panel now streaming here.

Liv, an intense and reticent theologian, is fascinated by words and their edges and echoes, and researches how the language of the Bible was wielded against the indigenous Sami people during the 1800s. When she moves to a bitterly cold fishing village to to work as the church’s new pastor following the death of her dearest friend, Kristiane, she begins planning her sermons while studying the violent interplay of Norway’s Christian colonial past.

Becoming acquainted with the villagers and their private tragedies, excavating their past and her own, Liv searches for meaning from scenes such as of Sami children gathering cloudberries and figs, from the memory of the magical weaver woman from an Astrid Lindgren fairytale she read as a child, or in how misstep and misunderstandings can lead to isolation and pain.

With each new experience and confrontation, fresh questions about scripture and empathy and who she is arise; as she wonders how “language, in all its plasticity, became so stiff and unbending,” she slowly bends it back toward her, building her own vocabulary of healing.


December 7, 2021
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm