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In The Wake


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A powerful and heart-rending novel based on Per Petterson's personal tragedy of losing many of his family in the sinking of the Estonia.

About the Author

Per Petterson was born in Oslo in 1952 and worked for several years as an unskilled labourer, a bookseller, a writer and a translator until he made his literary debut in 1987 with the short story collection Ashes in my Mouth, Sand in my Shoes, which was widely acclaimed by critics. He made his literary breakthrough in 2003 with the novel Out Stealing Horses, which has been translated into 40 languages so far and won many prizes, including the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.


A profound novel informed by Petterson's own experience of losing family in the MS Estonia disaster, this latest from award-winning Norwegian novelist Petterson (To Siberia) tells the story of novelist Arvid Jansen. Drowning in grief and self-doubt after the loss of his family in the same accident, he struggles with loneliness and is unable to write. Besides sporadic contact with his older brother, his human relationships are restricted to his Kurdish neighbor, with whom he has only three words of shared vocabulary, and Mrs. Grinde, the elusive woman who stares at him from her window. The few short weeks covered in the novel affect Arvid subtly but profoundly, pushing him to come to terms with his survivor guilt and look outside of himself to recognize the needs of others. Masterfully written-and adeptly rendered by translator Born-this novel is both timely and timeless. After a challenging first chapter, readers will discover a beautifully enlightening treatise on grief and identity disguised as a novel. Highly recommended for all fiction collections.-Karen Walton Morse, Univ. at Buffalo Lib. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Outstanding... Almost every paragraph of his poet's prose is informed by an awareness of the precariousness of life * Times Literary Supplement *
A masterpiece... Powerful...compelling...stunning and deeply moving... It's exactly the kind of novel we need right now -- John Burnside * Scotland on Sunday *
Exquisite * Independent *
Delineates with powerful delicacy the struggle to bear the unbearable * Independent on Sunday *

In his impressive American debut, veteran Norwegian novelist Petterson chronicles Arvid Jansen's breakdown in the six years since his parents and brother were killed in a ferry accident (modeled after the 1994 sinking of the MS Estonia). Arvid wanders around Oslo and through the Norwegian countryside, sifting through memories of his stern, ultracompetent father and nursing an infatuation with his attractive neighbor, Mrs. Grinde. After Arvid's architect brother attempts suicide, Arvid tries to reconnect with him and pull them both out of the abyss. Despite the gloomy subject matter, Arvid is a witty, self-deprecating narrator who fought with his family while they were alive and misses them terribly now that they're gone. This novel won several literary prizes in Europe, where the Estonia disaster is well known. The events may not feel as immediate to American readers, but many will find Arvid's path of loss and redemption affecting nonetheless. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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