Friday, June 15, 2007

Out Stealing Horses

Yesterday the Norwegian novelist Per Petterson's book Out Stealing Horses won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, worth €100,000 (it also won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2006), and it is highly recommended here, too. It is already selling well in paperback, is a deserved winner and should be highly popular.

It tells the story of Trond, in his late 60s, thinking back to his childhood from his new home in the isolated Norwegian countryside, starting :-

Early November. It's nine o'clock. The titmice are banging against the window. Sometimes they fly dizzily off after the impact, other times they fall and lie struggling in the snow until they can take off again. I don't know what they want that I have. I look out the window at the forest. There is a reddish light over the trees by the lake.

What follows is an atmospheric, evocative and moving novel about memory, pain, childhood, parenthood and loneliness. It is perfectly translated by Anne Born, who shares the prize. 'Scandinavian' fiction has recently been successful elsewhere in Europe, and, although this is set in a different country, this book may remind some readers of Henning Mankell's fine crime fiction.


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