The award-winning, internationally best-selling saga of a Greenlandic community torn apart by the forces of colonialism and the one priest whose wavering guidance will determine its fate.
From the swarming streets of Copenhagen to the frozen villages of Greenland, The Prophets of Eternal Fjord is a grand, magisterial story of epic proportion. Earning rave reviews and scores of readers across the world, Kim Leine's masterpiece—sweeping across the sea in a whaler and scurrying, panicked, from the Great Fire of 1795—arrives on American shores erupting with pathos, lust, faith lost and found, and a cast of characters clinging to life amidst persecution and calamity.
Idealistic, foolhardy Morten Falck, the hapless hero, is a newly ordained priest sailing to Greenland in 1787 to convert the Inuit to the Danish church. He's rejected the prospect of a sleepy posting in a local parish and instead departs for the forsaken Sukkertoppen colony, where he will endeavor to convert the locals. A town battered by unremittingly harsh winters and simmering with the threat of dissent, it is a far cry from the parish he envisioned; natives from neighboring villages have unified to reject colonial rule and establish their own settlement atop Eternal Fjord. A bumbling and at times terrifically destructive mix of Shakespeare's Falstaff and Nathaniel Hawthorne's Arthur Dimmesdale, he's woefully ill prepared to confront this new sect. Torn between his instinctive compassion for the rebel congregation perched atop Eternal Fjord and his duty to the church, Falck is forced to decide where he belongs. His exploits in this brutal backwater include an accidental explosion after a night curled around a keg, a botched surgery, a love affair with a solitary and fatalistic widow, and an apprenticeship with an eager young scholar that ends in tragedy.
Based on authentic events in the 1780s and '90s, The Prophets of Eternal Fjord moves from the quiet rooms of the Copenhagen bourgeoisie to the stark, hardscrabble village of the Fjord where Falck finds himself—surprisingly—at home. Kim Leine's textured, earthy prose evokes the sting of the cold, the itch of the wool, and the burn of the roughest swig of aquavit. In gritty detail, Leine reveals the corrosive effects of colonial rule—both on the colonized, bitterly ground down as they are, and on the colonizers, compromised and corrupted by their baseless power.
In rich, Dickensian descriptions, Leine charts the tragic events that intertwine seemingly disparate lives, illuminating the brutal and tender impulses of those seeking redemption and the shifting line between religion and mysticism. The Prophets of Eternal Fjord is a visceral panorama of a fragile colony caught in the throes of history, marking the American debut of a major international writer.