TV-presenter Allis Nordavatn leaves her husband and job in the capital, following a public sex scandal. She goes into voluntary exile, with a single purpose in mind: to build herself up again as a person and professional, in order to return to her old life. A job as a housekeeper and gardener for a man who lives in a house well off the beaten track gives her the opportunity to retreat, and she looks forward to days filled with gardening, cooking and her own writing. But her employer is not an old man in need of help and care, as expected. It is Sigurd Bagge, a forty-year-old who wants her to look after his house and garden until his wife returns from her travels. He wants her to serve him three meals a day, look after the garden and apart from that, leave him in peace.
Within this tiny world, the insistance that there should be no contact between them becomes unnatural and strained. Allis loses sight of her personal project, her fascination for Sigurd Bagge takes over, and as the two gradually become closer, the question arises: who is Sigurd Bagge and what does he want from Allis?
For different reasons, two people have sought to exile themselves in an isolated house by the sea. Both have a secret and a need for atonement. One carries shame, the other guilt. What is needed to start again? The Birds’ Tribunal begins as a gentle story and builds into a consuming drama about life and death.
Dagens Næringsliv’s reviewer wrote: «… towards the end, you start to recognise the outlines of a great novel, you see how Ravatn has built up the story in a way that allows it culminate in a dramatic fashion. And while doing this, she manages to say something about shame, desire and atonement that feels genuinely new.»
Dagbladet: “Agnes Ravatn’s language is precise and beautiful … The ending quite literally has you gripped in its claws.”
The Bird Tribunal has received both the cultural radio “ P 2’s listener’s prize” and “The Youth’s Critic Prize”. Complete English translation available (to be published by Orenda Books, UK, September 2016).
About the author
Agnes Ravatn (b. 1983) is an author and columnist. Since her first novel in 2007, Ravatn has published several critically acclaimed and award-winning essay collections, and is known for her unique, witty voice and sharp eye for human fallibility. Ravatn’s second novel, The Bird Tribunal, is a strange and captivating story about shame, guilt and atonement. Ravatn received «The cultural radio P2’s listener’s prize» for this novel, a popular and important prize in Norway.
Translations: The Bird Tribunal is sold to Germany, England, Serbia, Lithuania, Turkey, Denmark and Russia.