Book by Graham Greene (1904-1991), one of the greatest novelists of the 20th century. He wrote the novel after his stay in Mexico in the 1930's, where he was making a report on the plight of the persecuted catholics (cristeros) for the Vatican, see The Lawless Roads. The book was published in 1940 and won the prestigous Hawthornden Prize.
The title of the book it taken from the "Our Father" prayer, rightly leading us to believe that the book's theme is of a religious nature.
The story is set in Mexico in one of the southern states, during the 1930's. As a consequence of the Mexican Revolution, anti-catholic sentiment is abundant and priests are being rounded up and shot. The hero (or anti-hero, if you wish) of the tale is a 'whiskey' priest, an alcoholic, most probably corrupt, and on the run for his life. He is constantly haunted by feelings of guilt and incompetence. At the same time he can't seem to escape from his love for his fellow man, and his love (and thus fear) for god. On his journey he encounters a number of obscure characters, some of whom Greene had actually met in real life, like the dentist who can make a living out of gold-fillings in an abondoned outpost.
He is accompanied by a sickeningly described toothless mulatto (half black, half native indian), who he despises, and who betrays him, but whom he just can't seem to abandon. There is an industrious policeman on the priest's heels, an idealistic and honourable man of the law, who is convinced of the evil's of the Catholic Church. The closer the priest gets to a safer region the more he feels the pull of his vocation and his duty towards his 'flock'. "Wasn't it his duty to stay, even if they despised him, even if they were murdered for his sake? even if they were corrupted by his example?"
This is an excellent book, at times dauntingly beautiful, at times wincingly painful. The world is not a black and white place, and grey areas are far from dull.