Thursday, 13 March 2014

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson

We were going out stealing horses. That was what he said, standing at the door to the cabin where I was spending the summer with my father. I was fifteen. It was 1948 and one of the first days of July.Trond's friend Jon often appeared at his doorstep with an adventure in mind for the two of them. But this morning was different. What began as a joy ride on "borrowed" horses ends with Jon falling into a strange trance of grief. Trond soon learns what befell Jon earlier that day--an incident that marks the beginning of a series of vital losses for both boys.

Set in the easternmost region of Norway, Out Stealing Horses begins with an ending. Sixty-seven-year-old Trond has settled into a rustic cabin in an isolated area to live the rest of his life with a quiet deliberation. A meeting with his only neighbor, however, forces him to reflect on that fateful summer.

About the Author

Per Petterson, born in Oslo, Norway in 1952, worked for several years as an unskilled labourer, trained as a librarian, and worked as a bookseller, writer, and translator before publishing his first work, Aske i munnen, sand i skoa (Ash In His Mouth, Sand In His Shoe), a volume of short stories, in 1987. This book was proclaimed one of the decade's most sensational debuts.

Since then he has written a book of essays and several novels that have established his reputation as one of Norway's most significant fiction writers. These are Ekkoland (1989), Det er greit for meg (1992), To Siberia (1996), In the Wake (2000), Out Stealing Horses (2003), MÃ¥nen over Porten (2004), and I Curse the River of Time (Jeg forbanner tidens elv) (2008 . For To Siberia, Petterson was nominated for the Nordic Council's Literary Award and nominated for The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. For In the Wake he received the prestigious Norwegian literary prize, Brageprisen, and the novel was longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. Out Stealing Horses was awarded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in the UK, as well as both the Norwegian Booksellers' Prize and the Norwegian Critics' Award for best novel. In 2006, the novel was also named one of the 25 best Norwegian books the last 25 years by the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet.


The NY Times
The Telegraph

1 comment:

  1. Out Stealing Horses is a book rich in material to discuss. Its characters are vivid and complex; they are secretive or, perhaps, discrete. Trond, a young boy of fifteen in post-war Norway, observes and participates in events that he will only truly understand when he is sixty-seven and living in the woods once again. It is a powerful unfolding of his past. The seemingly simple story reveals the complexity of people and of life as layers of the story are peeled back over time. This is a novel of place and of people. It is extremely well-written and thought provoking.
    The most significant person in young Trond’s life is his father, a charismatic, rugged man. He is a man that men respect and follow “even when they know he is wrong”. He worked in the Norwegian resistance during WW II and the place that he and Trond go to vacation is along his resistance route that leads to the Swedish border. For all his physical strength and masculine appeal, he is a kind and thoughtful father. It is evident that he is guiding Trond toward manhood. With all that, he still choses a course which breaks Trond’s heart.
    That summer in the cabin by the river was magical in many ways for Trond – he had freedom, a good friend to join him in adventures and the company of his father. The tragedy that caused his friend Jon to leave was the beginning of awareness for Trond. He learned “what not to ask”. He began to work like a man and to observe the behavior of his father and his friends. He puzzled over his father’s obsession with cutting down the trees. He earned his father’s admiration and gratitude when, with a dangerous maneuver, he was able to free a log jam. At the end of the summer, Trond’s father put him on the bus back to Oslo alone - Trond never saw his father again.
    We found this to be a very masculine novel. It was about the relationship between Trond and his father, Trond approaching manhood and, finally, the man he became. It is a novel about choice, about how our lives are shaped by the choices we make and how we respond to the actions of others. Approaching the end of his life Trond reflects that, “…we decide when it will hurt.”