out stealing horses

September 22, 2008

This very quiet, pensive book by Per Petterson won the Independent’s prize for foreign fiction in 2006, and was hugely popular in Norway. An elderly man starts life anew in a remote cabin, away from the city and other people. A chance encounter with a new neighbour returns him to a life-changing boyhood summer after the war, when he also lived out in a cabin in the woods with his father.

I don’t want to give too much away, but the book read like the most honest kind of meditation on a life gone by and decisions taken in given situations. Petterson’s sparse prose is almost poetry in sections, helped by the interplay between an adolescent’s and an older man’s views of past events. The latter also shows that while you might not understand everything as a child, being grown up doesn’t always make everything obvious either. Don’t expect a gripping page-turner(although there is more than enough suspense), and the book’s gentleness will stay with you for a long time after you turned the last page.

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