Sunday, 11 July 2010

Book of the Week - Per Petterson, I Curse the River of Time

I Curse the River of Time is the the fourth book in English by Norwegian author Per Petterson. 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. Since then he has written a book of essays and five 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) and Out Stealing Horses (2003). 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, and the English translation won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (the world’s most valuable book prize) and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. He has, therefore a strong pedigree, and must be a candidate in years to come for the Nobel Literature Prize. Signed copies of all of his books are worth a premium, so a signed copy of I Curse the River of Time (1000 copies signed to a bookplate from Harvill) should be an interesting read and a good long term buy.

“It is 1989 and all over Europe Communism is crumbling. Arvid Jansen, 37, is in the throes of a divorce. At the same time, his mother is diagnosed with cancer. Over a few intense autumn days, we follow Arvid as he struggles to find a new footing in his life, while all the established patterns around him are changing at staggering speed. As he attempts to negotiate the present, he casts his mind back to holidays on the beach with his brothers, to courtship, and to his early working life, when as a young Communist he abandoned his studies to work on a production line. "I Curse the River of Time" is an honest, heartbreaking yet humorous portrayal of a complicated mother-son relationship told in Petterson's precise and beautiful prose.”

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