The Colony of Good Hope (Greenland Trilogy #2) by Kim Leine. Translated by Martin Aitken

Published: 2022. Originally published in Danish in 2018 1. First lines. 2. Cover: Pan Macmillan 3. A portrait of the New Herrnhut mission around 1770 [Public Domain] via Wikipedia 4. Hans Egede [Public Domain] British Library via Europeana 5. Portrait of Gertrude Rask, wife of Hans Egede [Public Domain] via Wikipedia 6. Shaman and his wife [Public Domain] via Picryl

This is a fictionalised story of the establishment of a colony in Greenland by the Danish government in 1728. A Lutheran Mission has already been established there by missionary priest Hans Egede, who makes an enemy of the shaman Aappaluttoq. The colony is called “Good Hope”, and most of the Danes have died in the first year through starvation and epidemics. This, and the misgovernment of the colony dooms it to failure, but the Mission continues.

“Perhaps we Greenlanders will also be bad Christians. Would it not be better for us to be good Greenlanders than bad Christians, priest?”

The Times Literary Supplement calls this book “engrossing and insightful”. It is a long and complex novel, and this reader feels that, at times, the long theological discussions are a distraction. The characters are all realistically portrayed, and this is the novel’s great strength, along with the descriptions of the landscape and conditions.


His wife is much older than him, well over fifty, while he is around forty. They are dull, but as imperishable as old woodwork. Madame Egede seems stiffened into the mould of the dogged old woman, her face furrowed like a length of driftwood.

Author: Kim Leine

Originally published 2018 as “Red Man, White Man” in Danish

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