Per Petterson: Ut og stjæle hester (Out Stealing Horses)

The latest addition to my website is Per Petterson‘s Ut og stjæle hester (Out Stealing Horses).

Trond Sander is sixty-seven. Within the space of a month , his second wife is killed in a car crash, in which he is injured, and his sister dies of cancer. He decides that it is time to retire and buys a rundown house in the north of Norway, not far from the Swedish border. He meets his neighbour, Lars, and both men soon realise they knew each other as children. When Trond was fifteen, in 1948, he and his father would come to a remote cabin and do man things while his mother and sister stayed at home in Oslo. He had a friend Jon, a local boy of his age and one day the two boys go out stealing horses, in fact just riding the horses of the local landowner. Only later does he learn that the day before, his younger brother, Lars, had taken Jon’s loaded rifle and shot and killed Odd, his twin brother. Lars is, of course, the the Lars that the older Trond meets.

We learn more about what happened then but also what happened before. It seems Trond’s unnamed father, was active in the resistance during the war, though his family knew little about it, and became close to the mother of Jon and Lars. Trond gradually learns more from his father’s friend Franz. However that holiday was the last time he saw either Jon or his father, who disappeared, leaving only a few krone for his family. Much of the book is Trond’s relationship with his father that summer and how he struggles to cope in his old age, trying to put his life back together. There are few fireworks but it is a beautifully told tale.

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