In the Wake

Petterson, Per: I kjølvannet .
Winner of the prestigious Brage Prize 2000

Spanning an intense period of only a few weeks, In the wake tells the story about 43 year-old Arvid, who lost his parents and younger brothers in a ferry accident some years before. It is especially against memories of his father that Arvid has to regard his own life, but also against his feelings for his dead mother, and his one brother who is still alive. Arvid struggles with memories, existential questions and a deep sense of the world's injustice. The tone is rougher that in Petterson's previous books, and the humour is more pronounced, but the literary artistry is the same; rather than pointing at conditions, Petterson makes them arise from the text.

Click here for English sample translation.

Praise for In the Wake:

“Over the last two decades Per Petterson has established himself as one the finest writers in his native Norway, publishing six works of fiction there (several were translated and published in Britain) and winning the Norwegian Critics Prize for Literature and the 2006 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. With In the Wake, skillfully translated by Anne Born, Mr. Petterson is finally introduced to readers this side of the Atlantic… Mr. Petterson demonstrates, through his own commanding art, the solace of the written word as well as the necessity of human connection. It is understandable why Europeans readers have long admired his work.”
 (S. Kirk Walsh, New York Times -  click here to read full review  )

“A profound novel. Masterfully written . . . this novel is both timely and timeless. A beautifully enlightening treatise on grief and identity disguised as a novel. Highly recommended"
 (Library Journal)

”an intense and moving work, surprising in its contradictions: tragic yet humourous, its careful descriptions of everyday details suggest the emptiness of those who survive”
 (Times Literary Supplement)

"What makes In the Wake so powerful is Petterson's ability to create an atmosphere of shared grief, matched by a psychological narrative so compelling that the reader is obliged to travel with Arvid.... exactly the kind of book we need right now... full of astonishing moments; a novel that is, when all is said and done, something of a masterpiece"
 (Scotland on Sunday)

"...baffling, like a plunge into ice-cold water"
 (The Guardian, Manchester)

" In the wake is a feat of a novel; a study in the anatomy of human catastrophe and psychology. With a supreme stylistic touch , Per Petterson unites melodrama with profound objectivity. And that is an unbeatable literary chemistry"
 (Lars Saabye Christensen, author of The Half Brother)

"... a novel of the highest calibre... a delicately structured piece of writing... impeccably imagined and at times grotesquely comic.... What is really gratifying in Petterson's wrenching, absorbing novel, is the grace it accords the gift of self-expression"
 (The Telegraph)

"The novel is startling... like a plunge into icy water"
 (The Observer, London)

"The reader is left with a one hundred per cent sterling piece of writing. Not one mistake anywhere. Not even a slip" (Ingvar Ambjørnsen)

"In the Wake will probably be remembered as one of the best and most beautiful descriptions of a father-son relationship in Norwegian literature"
 (Dag og Tid)

"It could hardly be done any better. This is quite simply an excellent book (...) for both form and content are organically bound together. There is a wonderful naturalness in Petterson's prose and, paradoxically, we are left revitalized and refreshed by its naked rawness"
 (Christa Leve Poulsen, Børsen, Copenhagen)

"All dissimilarities notwithstanding, one is led to think of Hamsun's Sult"
 (Torben Brostrøm, Information, Copenhagen)

First published: 2000, Forlaget Oktober
 Per Petterson: Biography and bibliography

Rights sold to

Language Foreign publisher
Albanian Shkupi
American English Thomas Dunne
Arabic Ogarit Center
British English Harvill Secker
Bulgarian Delakort
Chinese (complex) Aquarius
Chinese (simplified) Hunan Publishing House
Danish Batzer & Co.
Dutch De Geus
Faeroese Nylendì
French Éditions Circé
Georgian Blue Bird
German Carl Hanser Verlag
Macedonian ILI-ILI
Romanian Pandora Publishing
Romanian Univers
Spanish Literatura Mondadori

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