The Pastor

Hanne Ørstavik

translated from the Norwegian by Martin Aitken
Archipelago Books 2021
A book review by Danny Yee © 2024
The foreground events in The Pastor cover a week in Liv's life as a pastor in a far-north Norwegian village (Kjøllefjord), dealing with a suicide, attending a conference, meeting a potential love interest, and connecting with the family downstairs. But her thoughts are dominated by what brought her to that village a year ago, her brief but intense friendship with Kristiane, a story that comes to us in out of order episodes in her internal conversations with herself; also bubbling up in that are fragments of her doctoral research, on an 1852 Sami uprising in a nearby town.

Liv is out of place, socially and emotionally, but is slowly finding or constructing herself a space. Lacking an intuition for human relationships — or too frightened to trust what intuitions she has — her instincts are to the theoretical and analytical, but she is aware of the limitations of language and theory.

The Pastor is a character study, but one with an involving geographical and social setting and one which works as a novel, with good pacing and effective integration of the sub-stories.

April 2024

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%T The Pastor
%A Ørstavik, Hanne
%M Norwegian
%F Aitken, Martin
%I Archipelago Books
%D 2021
%O paperback
%G ISBN-13 9781953861085
%P 270pp