We meet politician Egil Retten and his daughter Maja, an animal rights and environmental activist. Preparing the opening of a local water power plant, Egil is criticized and confronted by Maja, who believes the animals in the area will suffer as a result. Finally, they cease to communicate at all.
In What Lives Erland Kiøsterud puts insolvable conflicts up against each other, leading his tale towards an inevitable dark ending. At the same time he asks the question: what lives? In his novel, he explores the question from different angles, twisting and turning it over, showing that life can be sensed and chosen where ever you are.
What Lives is the third book in a loosely-knit trilogy about modern Norway. The first two novels are The First Work (2005) and At the Mouth of the River (2008).