Set in 18th-century Greenland this novel follows one Morten Falck, a Christian missionary posted to an isolated Danish colony. We picked this book because it made the shortlist of the Dublin Literary Award, an interesting prize in that all the nominations come from libraries around the world. Prophets was nominated by the Openbare Bibliotheek in Belgium, who called it ‘a novel full of lust, faith, calamity and persecution’; the Aarhus Kommunes Biblioteker in Denmark who said it was a ‘unique and compelling reading experience’; and the Chicago Public Library who said it was ‘crafted in a way that forces the reader to feel the itch of crawling lice and smell the stench of rotten blubber, [a] brutal yet majestic novel [that] explores the complex relationship of the colonizer and the colonised.’ It also came highly recommended from the Nordic Council of Literature, who awarded it their prize in 2013.
The novel provoked a decidedly mixed bag of reactions for our book club, ranging from Sally who read the whole thing through gritted teeth, to me, who loved it and relished all the gory details. Review and detailed comments over on the main site. The book scored a reasonable 63/100, putting it level with Patti Smith's Just Kids in our archive (strange, as I remember most of us loved that book – we must have been more conservative in our scoring that day). Laura and I then repeated the enthusiasm / gritted teeth dynamic over on the podcast, where we debate why anyone would want to read a book that makes you feel as if lice were crawling all over your skin and sucks you down into a moral vacuum. We also have some good book recommendations you might want to consider for your next podcast read.
And finally for anyone curious to know more here's Kim Leine himself on how he'd really like all the fuss to die down so he can get back to his writing