Winner of the Brage Prize 2004
Liv is thirty-five years old. A year before the story begins, she left Germany, where she was studying for a PhD in theology, to become a parish priest of a small town in the far north of Norway. The novel opens with a Sunday service, and subsequently follows Liv’s life in the next few days, culminating in the funeral she officiates on the following Friday.
Liv fills multiple roles and functions in her life; as a priest, a fellow human being and a private person. She is driven by an urge for purpose, meaning and belonging. As a researcher she studied the language of the Bible as a rallying point in the revolt of the Sami people in Kautokeino in 1852, focusing on the question of what it is that gives language its meaning – not only on a semantic level, but also as tone, rhythm and attitude – all the things that shape a language, constituting something larger, something more. Liv’s reflections and recollections give the story its impetus and unify its various levels.
In The Pastor, Hanne Ørstavik continues the pursuit of knowledge that represents the core of her literary project. In a clear, incisive prose she generates a sense of presence that gives direct access to the novel’s ethical and existential universe.