I curse the river of time by Per Petterson

Source – library

Translator -Charlotte Barslund with Per Petterson .

Per Petterson is a Norwegian writer ,his 2006 book out stealing Horse won the 2006 IFFP prize and was a surprise run away bestseller ,he is a trained librarian and say carver and Hamsun have influenced his books .This is on this years Independent foreign fiction prize longlist .

The book is the story Avrid a middle aged man and his relationship with his mother, but also a look back on his younger days and broken dreams and hopes .He was a strong believer in communism and as the book is set in 1989 as the iron curtain begins to tumble ,he looks back on the hopes pf youth when the soviets seemed godlike .Tied in with this is a taut relationship with his mother ,as he choose the ideology in his youth a job in a factory instead of an academic path .His mother wanted him to take .so with his mother ill and returning to her home town in Denmark we find Arvid who isn’t in the best health himself and in the middle of a messy divorce himself ,on his way to see her ,she left her home and husband behind in Oslo ,Arvid has a real love for his mother and other the course of the book you see how there lives unfolded and how decisions can affect your future so much .and your relationship with others .Avrid,s childhood was one of distance from his mother almost clinical it read at times ,with his mother so distant at times and him wanting love from her .

“I m leaving today”,my mother said .

“Where to ?” my father said.


“Home “, he said “Today? shouldn’t we talk about this first ? Don’t I get chance to think about it ?”

“There is nothing to discuss” my mother said .”I ve booked my ticket .I ve a letter from Aker hospital I’ve got cancer .”

“You have cancer ?”

The minute Arvid’s mother drop the bombshell to his father .

His mother is a strong character in this book on might even say a stereotype for a certain time of Scandinavian women strong ,cool and hard to connect with at times.The other character in the book apart from Arvid and his mother is the scenery the sea boats rugged country and places ,Per breaths life into his homeland in his words .I ve rarely read such beautiful prose as Petterson .He is the voice of the everyday world of Norway and master of being in a family in this book .Also broken dream and the fall of communism that is a hell of a lot in 230 pages ,I think !


16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Louise
    Apr 07, 2011 @ 21:32:00

    I really enjoyed reading this review. I’ve wondered about Per Petterson’s work and think maybe this book would be a good one to start with. Thanks so much, Stu!


  2. Sarah
    Apr 08, 2011 @ 06:42:48

    Stu, you have convinced me too. Which of his books would you recommend starting with?


  3. Kinna
    Apr 08, 2011 @ 07:53:43

    Alas, I have not read any of his books. In fact, Scandinavian authors are absent from my reading. I’m adding him to my list. The book sounds wonderful and the mother even more so. I like the quote a lot. Thanks.


  4. Chinoiseries
    Apr 08, 2011 @ 09:21:26

    Stu, I am really glad to see that you enjoyed his evocative prose as much as I did 🙂 Don’t remember whether you also read Out Stealing Horses? Much recommended!


  5. Gavin
    Apr 08, 2011 @ 14:10:27

    I read Out Stealing Horses and loved it. This one is on my TBR list, maybe I’ll get to it later in the year!


  6. Bina
    Apr 08, 2011 @ 19:33:48

    You know, I’m very intrigued by that mother figure! Another one for the tbr, I might need a new box extra for all your recs, Stu 😀


  7. gaskella
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 10:39:31

    I too enjoyed Out Stealing Horses. I’ll be looking out for this book.


  8. Trackback: Book Review: Per Petterson’s I Curse the River of Time - Opinionless

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April 2011


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