Petterson, Per 1952-

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Petterson, Per 1952-


Born 1952; has children.


Writer and translator. Has worked as a laborer and bookseller.


Nordic Council's Literary Prize, for To Siberia;Norwegian Critic's Prize for Literature and Norwegian Booksellers Prize, both 2003, both for Ut Og Stjœle Hester: Roman; London Independent Foreign Fiction prize (with translator Anne Born), 2006, and IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (with translator Anne Born), 2007, both for Out Stealing Horses.


Ekkoland, Oktober (Oslo, Norway), 1989.

Det Er Greit for Meg: Roman (title means "It's Fine by Me"), Oktober (Oslo, Norway), 1992.

Til Sibir: Roman, Oktober (Oslo, Norway), 1996, translation by Anne Born published as To Siberia, Harvill Press (London, England), 1998.

Ut Og Stjœle Hester: Roman, Forlaget Oktober (Oslo, Norway), 2003.

In the Wake, translated by Anne Born, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2006.

Out Stealing Horses, translated by Anne Born, Graywolf Press (St. Paul, MN), 2007.

Also author of short-story collection Aske i munnen, sand i skoa (title means "Ash in His Mouth, Sand in His Shoe").


Per Petterson is a much-honored Norwegian writer who, among other themes, has explored Norway's working-class men, fathers and sons, and people who have had to deal with horrendous loss. Petterson has been long recognized as one of Norway's preeminent writers, and he has begun to receive worldwide acclaim from both critics and readers with the translation of his novels into English. One of his first novels to be translated into English, To Siberia, was published in England in 1998 and features an unnamed female narrator who recounts the story of her intolerant family and her love for her brother, Jesper, who joins the underground and flees the Gestapo following the Nazis' arrival in Norway during World War II. As the narrator deals with the stresses of the invasion and her unlikable family, except for Jesper, she dreams of going to Siberia, a place she thinks of as the ultimate in quiet and peace. "The realization of life's unfulfilled dreams is the theme of this beautifully written novel," wrote Lisa Rohrbaugh in the Library Journal. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted the novel's "infinitely sad but translucent ending."

In his American debut novel, In the Wake, Petterson draws from his own personal experience of losing his mother, father, brother, and a niece in a 1994 ferry accident to write a tale chronicling the breakdown of Arvid Jansen, who similarly loses his parents and two younger brothers in a ferry accident. Narrated by Arvid, the book focuses on Arvid's memories of his past, his attraction to a neighbor, and the rescue of another brother from suicide. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that "Arvid is a witty, self- deprecating narrator." The novel received widespread praise when first published in Norway and has likewise been critically acclaimed by English-speaking reviewers. Donna Chavez, writing in Booklist, commented: "This is as fine a portrayal of the course of heartache and renewal as any in recent memory." Library Journal contributor Karen Walton Morse wrote that "readers will discover a beautifully enlightening treatise on grief and identity."

Out Stealing Horses is the story of Trond, a sixty-seven-year-old man who escapes society by moving to a remote, primitive cabin where he ponders his life. When one of his few neighbors stops by for a visit, Trond realizes that he is the younger brother of a friend, causing him to recall a seminal point in his life when he and this friend went out to steal horses in 1948. "This is a delightful, thought-provoking and ethereal book," wrote a reviewer of Out Stealing Horses on the Reading Matters Web site. A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that the author "coaxes out of Trond's reticent, deliberate narration a story as vast as the Norwegian tundra."



Booklist, June 1, 2006, Donna Chavez, review of In the Wake, p. 39.

Entertainment Weekly, June 1, 2007, Sean Howe, review of Out Stealing Horses, p. 71.

Guardian (London, England), May 3, 2006, Michelle Pauli, "Per Petterson Wins Independent Foreign Fiction Prize."

Library Journal, May 1, 1999, Lisa Rohrbaugh, review of To Siberia, p. 112; May 1, 2006, Karen Walton Morse, review of In the Wake, p. 82.

New York Times Book Review, August 17, 2006, S. Kirk Walsh, review of In the Wake.

Publishers Weekly, March 15, 1999, review of To Siberia, p. 48; May 1, 2006, review of In the Wake, p. 33; April 9, 2007, review of Out Stealing Horses, p. 32.

Times Literary Supplement, October 9, 1998, Paul Binding, review of To Siberia, p. 24; December 4, 1998, review of To Siberia, p. 10.


Librarian, (June 14, 2007), "Per Petterson Wins IMPAC Dublin Literary Award."

Library of Congress Web site, (September 9, 1999), biography of author.

PEN American Center, (July 15, 2007), brief profile of author.

Reading Matters, (July 15, 2007), review of Out Stealing Horses.

Wild River Review, (July 15, 2007), Joy E. Stocke, "Language within Silence—An Interview with Norwegian Writer Per Petterson."


Norwegian Writer Per Petterson Reading from His Novel "Til Sibir," (sound recording; analog), 1999.