TUE—October 19—1 PM ET, free



MoreLectures + Literary

On October 19, join us to celebrate the release of the new novel The Pastor in a virtual book talk with award-winning Norwegian novelist Hanne Ørstavik! With moderator Rebecca Dinerstein Knight, Ørstavik will discuss her gripping new release, out that day in translation by Martin Aitken from Archipelago Books.

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, she 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.

Martin Aitken’s translation of this extraordinary novel rings with the brilliance and rigor of a master.

This event will take place as a Zoom webinar; please ask questions in the chat or send them in advance to  info@amscan.org. Registration is required; please sign up at the link above.

“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

About the Author

Hanne Ørstavik published the novel Cut in 1994 and embarked on a career that would make her one of the most remarkable and admired authors in Norwegian contemporary literature. Her literary breakthrough came three years later with the publication of Love (Kjærlighet), which in 2006 was voted the 6th best Norwegian book of the last 25 years in a prestigious contest in Dagbladet. Since then, the author has written several acclaimed and much discussed novels and received a host of literary prizes.

About the Moderator

Rebecca Dinerstein Knight is the author of novels Hex and The Sunlit Night, and a bilingual English-Norwegian collection of poems, Lofoten. Her screenplay adaptation of The Sunlit Night premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and is now a major motion picture. 

Knight has reviewed restaurants for The Village Voice and novels for The New York Times Book Review, and her essays have appeared online in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The New York Times, among others. A former host of the Lillehammer Literary Festival, she has spent a decade directing English-Norwegian creative projects.