Ada does not like God, and nothing suggests that God likes Ada. When she discovers she cannot take part in God’s great grace and the sacrifice of Christ, she chooses to sacrifice herself. Ada becomes a prostitute –a she decides to use her own and other people’s bodies to get rid of everything clean – everything spiritual.
But instead of dirt and shame she finds lonely people with a longing for intimacy. It looks like her project is going to fail – until one day one of her clients introduces her to Even, a man without any longings or any wish for closeness and intimacy.
The Bearer of Shame is linked up to Øystein Stene’s previous novel The Master of Waiting, where the ironic and distant Even was the main character. This time it is the angry and lost Ada who speaks her mind.
Skambæreren is the second of three novels with overlapping themes, characters and plot sequences — although the point of view and narrator change in each book. The other two books are Ventemesteren and Nekromantikeren.
The Bearer of Shame was on the newspaper Vårt Land’s list of the best three books of 2006.
Kåre Bulie in Dagbladet 23.03.2006
“A surprisingly interesting work about shame and family. As much as the book is about problematic sexuality and religious foolishness, it is also about complicated interpersonal relationships: between parents and children, man and woman … the author writes well, with a gripping seriousness. With complete control over his narrative technique, he switches effectively between three stories from different time frames in Ada’s life.”
Katrine Hofseth Leira in Drammens Tidene 30.03.07
“Stene has a unique ability to describe feelings of shame, inner conflict and aggression, while he also connects this to specific actions. In short, I can say that Stene has hit the mark with his second publication. The starting point is original, the language good and the story stays with you.”
Marius Asp in Spirit nr. 8 2006
“The narrative of Skambæreren comprises three threads: Ada’s childhood memories from her free church family and the subsequent ‛process of liberation’ that prostitution involves, are interwoven with the present moment. There are some strikingly good sections and Stene writes with consistent brilliance. At a time when the lack of credible and complex portraits of women is under fire in Norwegian cultural life, it is also a pleasure to get to know the rebellious, intelligent and in many ways profoundly alive Ada, who tries in vain to become one with and consumed by dirt and shame.”
Kjell-Richard von Wachenfeldt in Vårt Land 25.09.2003
“Stene does not moralise. But his work is bursting with morality and that is wonderful. Because even though these two books are about sexuality, it is just a cracked façade, a means of exploring something much deeper and more important. But it is good to read books that so glibly discard the requirement that we shall all drown in desire and wonderful sex. And best of all, this is not accomplished merely by demonstrating how ordinary and tedious bodies in movement actually are, but through intelligent, reflected thought.”
Mie Hilde in Stavanger Aftenblad 29.09.2003
“In the sense of her obsessive shame, Ada is a prostitute in keeping with Nina Karin Monsen’s formula. Luckily, Stene is wiser than the philosopher and knows that Ada is a special case. Here he enables Ada’s auditions for the Art Academy to continue with Even’s help, and he introduces Gregor, Even’s dedicated therapist, into Ada’s circle of clients. The outcome is ill-fated. Stene has absolutely created a distinctive start to a body of literary work.”