Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Out Stealing Horses, by Per Petterson

Per Petterson is an award-winning Norwegian novelist.  His 2003 novel Out Stealing Horses (published in Norwegian in 2003 as Ut og stjæle hester, published in English translation in 2005) has received the most praise of any of his work, including the €100,000 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.  So if I don't like the book I must be a literary ignoramus.

I didn't totally not like the book.  I just found it to be dull and aimless.  Parts were beautifully written.  (Speaking of ignorant, I admit I read it in English.  My Norwegian is a bit rusten.)  This is the story of a man named Trond, flipping between a summer in his teen years and his 60s.  It's a mix of coming of age, a family tragedy involving a neighbor's family, his own family's dissolution, and a bit about the Nazi occupation of Norway. 

If you're into pastoral novels, with lots of reflective passages, which switches between time periods while slowly drawing the events together, developing a character arc but not much more, this could be one you'd love.  Out Stealing Horses is a good book, maybe even great literature, but I simply didn't enjoy reading it very much.

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