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This title in other editions

To Siberia

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To Siberia Cover

ISBN13: 9780312428990
ISBN10: 0312428995
Condition: Standard
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Staff Pick

Petterson's Danish seascape is gorgeous, the lives of his characters are meticulously rendered, and his tracing of their lives is perfect. Guaranteed to take your breath away, To Siberia quietly tells the story of a lovely and innocent childhood opening like a flower in a storm.
Recommended by Jason W., Powell's Books at Cedar Hills Crossing

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Born into a troubled family in a Danish seaside town, the heroine of To Siberia clings to her brother, and he to her, with a desperate devotion. The novel tells the story of their powerful bond and their agonizing separation. Neglected by their parents, the two wander the streets of their village as young children, dreaming of a different life. The sister fantasizes about escaping to Siberia, but that dream seems ever more remote as her brother becomes a young man and disappears into the resistance movement against the Nazi occupation. Their separation begins years of wandering for her, and Petterson's novel traces the separate struggles of brother and sister with empathy, insight, and pathos.

With the same crystalline prose that made Out Stealing Horses a bestselling sensation, Per Petterson here draws a portrait of a sister and brother bound together powerfully by birth, and separated painfully by circumstance.

Per Petterson won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for his novel Out Stealing Horses, which has been translated into more than thirty languages and was named a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times, Time, and Entertainment Weekly. Before publishing his first book, Petterson worked as a bookseller in Norway.
A brother and sister are forced ever more closely together after the suicide of their grandfather. Their parents' neglect leaves them wandering the streets of their small Danish village. The sister dreams of escaping to Siberia, but it seems increasingly distant as she helplessly watches her brother become involved in resisting the Nazis.
 
In this novel, readers will find the crystalline prose and depth of feeling they adored in Petterson's Out Stealing Horses.

"Striking . . . Working from a gray-on-gray palette of Scandinavian gloom, Per Petterson creates a surprising range of effects, from the silvery surfaces of childhood memories to the twilight depths of shadows falling."—Amanda Heller, The Boston Globe

"To Siberia is the flashback of an older Danish woman remembering her youth during World War II . . . Petterson's heroine is grounded by solitude and a solid awareness of her body. She relishes the strength and calm that come with vigorous walks, bicycle rides and swims, and sometimes stands in a room simply enjoying how her body feels . . . [The narrative] offer[s] almost stream-of-consciousness gazes into the protagonist's soul. Yet Petterson's writing is so exact and piercing that, like poetry, it distills her experiences and feelings into imagery that is powerful beyond its words. The effect is beautiful and moving, letting the reader connect with the character's vitality and reflect on life with the same fullness and serenity that she does."—Melissa Allison, The Seattle Times

"[Petterson's] power lies in the way he sculpts calamity into catharsis . . . Reading a Petterson novel is like falling into a northern landscape painting—all shafts of light and clear, palpable chill. The narrator and her brother Jesper grow up in this setting, on a farm in Denmark in the 1930s. Distant from their parents, they find happiness in each other, and as the narrator grows from tagalong sister to adolescent, Petterson gives their relationship a delicate physical dimension . . . But the thing that sticks is the adoring trust sister places in brother, whether she's a child sneaking out with him via rooftop at night, a young woman trying to match his daring or an old woman narrating the memory of her love for him."—Time magazine

"Against a chilly backdrop, the writing shimmers with a crystalline beauty . . . This work coaxes readers into a sphere of loneliness with the precise prose and keen intellect of a masterful writer."—The Star-Tribune (Minneapolis)

"To Siberia succeeds in one of the greatest aims of fiction, to transport us to another time and place that makes us see our world with clearer vision, and to recognize the similarities and differences of human nature across time and distance."—The Dallas Morning News

"The novels of this Norwegian author spring from harsh landscapes and even harsher circumstances, yet they never wallow in despair. Always there is solace—in simple labor, healing solitude, or the often frozen physical world. Petterson's award-winning Out Stealing Horses brought him American attention in 2007, prompting comparisons to the spare, cinematic realism of Cormac McCarthy. A more natural equivalent is Kent Haruf, who favors the same plainspoken lyricism. To Siberia, Petterson's 1996 novel, again concerns the memories of a narrator who lived through the Nazi occupation of a rural Scandinavian town. This time it is a women recalling her younger self—the tomboy whose reckless independence and abiding love for her older brother helped her survive hardship and a supremely repressed family (Ingmar Bergman times three). The girl's name is spoken once; the focus of her life—and seemingly everyone's—is her charismatic brother Jesper. It doesn't matter. She is indelible."—New York magazine

"Children's voices—haunting, funny, and courageous—guide us through Per Petterson's To Siberia, a flawless novel of Nazi-occupied Denmark."—Anna Mundow, The Boston Globe

"Published in Norway in 1996, To Siberia is Petterson's third novel to arrive on these shores, following the wildly successful Out Stealing Horses, which won the IMPAC prize in 2007, and In the Wake, which appeared in '06. All three books revolve around feelings of regret and longing, continually returning to the narrators' complicated relationships to the past. Like characters in the novels of Knut Hamsun—whom he has acknowledged as a key influence—Petterson's heroes and heroines wander to high ground, where they are alone and unknown. Getting away from it all sharpens memorys torment; it also forces them to stitch their lives into stories. Although To Siberia has these familiar elements, Petterson gives his heroine a voice of her own. She is proud and knowing, yet determined to transform herself from a village provincial into something more glamorous. 'They have caps made of wolfskin and big jackets and fur-lined boots,' she says of Siberians, slipping into the present tense. She will be a hit on the train. '[People] will tell me what their lives are like and what their thoughts are and ask me why I have come all the long way from Denmark. Then I will answer them: "I have read about you in a book." And then we'll drink hot tea from the samovar and be quiet together just looking.' Petterson deftly calibrates his narrator's Holly Golightly naïveté, using it to bracket the Nazi invasion of April 9, 1940, within the penumbra of a young woman's self-regard . . . As he did in Out Stealing Horses, Petterson writes wonderfully about animals and the place they once had in this world: When the narrator and her brother sneak into the barn at night and she crawls atop a sleeping cow, its body heat lulls her to sleep. After the grandfather's suicide, his horse bolts into the forest, never to be seen again. But it does appear in the narrator's dreams, as if to beckon her away. She tacks a picture of the beast above her bed as if it were a reminder of her own impetuous nature . . . Petterson's heroine does makes her break and begins wandering, and the story drifts with her as she becomes an adult . . . Gloomily, soberly, Petterson paints her life with a dark, cold luster."—John Freeman, Bookforum

"The Danish response to Nazi Germany before and during World War II forms the backdrop for this coming-of-age novel—first published in 1996 in Norway—that covers 13 years in the life of a young girl. The unnamed narrator and her adored older brother Jesper grow up in a rural Danish village with their stern but deeply loving father Magnus, a struggling humpbacked carpenter, and their musical, fanatically religious mother Marie. In 1934 Magnus takes the family on a short beachside vacation that goes awry but that plants the idea of travel in the narrator's head. She begins to dream quixotically of escaping to Siberia, of all places; Jesper, more understandably, fantasizes about Morocco. Then the children's grandfather hangs himself. They are told that Magnus chose to leave their wealthy grandfather's farm for town life. In fact, Magnus was forced off the farm and now the old man has bequeathed him nothing. Magnus's carpentry shop fails, and Marie begins to run a dairy the family must live above, but in a case of poetic justice, hoof and mouth disease eventually makes the farm worthless. While in middle school, the narrator shares her first kiss with Ruben, a Jewish boy. Jesper, now a printer's apprentice with a wicked sense of humor, becomes a socialist. He dreams of fighting in Spain although he's still too young. When the Germans arrive in Denmark, most of the narrator's friends and family join the resistance. Ironically, Jesper fights a German soldier while the narrator saves one from drowning. The Gestapo takes control of the town. Jesper sneaks into Sweden with Ruben's family. By 1947, the narrator is pregnant and living in Norway. She has not seen Jesper, who somehow made it to Morocco, for four years. She returns home expecting a reunion that never happens. A spare, lyrical novel from Norwegian author Petterson that possesses historical breadth and a remarkable sense of immediacy."—Kirkus Reviews

"The realization of life's unfulfilled dreams is the theme of this beautifully written novel, which recounts the unnamed narrator's childhood and adolescence in a small Danish town. She dearly loves her brother, Jesper, the only person in her family she cares about. Her rigid, intolerant parents are unresponsive to her need for affection, scarred by the suicide of her grandfather and her mother's Christianity. Then the Germans bring World War II to their quiet world, and life changes . . . The author of a story collection and an earlier novel, Norwegian writer Petterson is an outstanding talent. Highly recommended."—Alisa Rohrbaugh, East Palestine Memorial Public Library, Ohio, Library Journal

"This 1996 novel predates Pettersen's acclaimed Out Stealing Horses (first published in 2003), and has all of Pettersen's haunted charms. As an unnamed young girl and her big brother, Jesper (who calls her Sistermine), grow up in rural WWII-era Denmark, the two cope with distant parents, an eccentric extended family and the cold wind. Jesper longs to go south to Morocco; Sistermine yearns for the plains of Siberia, foreshadowing lives that will diverge. Their grandfather's suicide, the arrival of puberty and most tragically, the German invasion change their idyllic childhood relationship; as each sibling fights back against the occupation in his or her own way, their inevitable separation looms . . . The book builds up slowly, casting a spell of beauty and devastation that matches the bleak but dazzling climate that enshrouds Sistermine's young life."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Synopsis:

In the bitter cold of Danish Jutland, where the sea freezes over and the Nazis have yet to invade, a young girl dreams of one day going on a great journey to Siberia, while her beloved brother Jesper yearns for the warmer climes of Morocco. Their home, with a pious mother who sings hymns all day and a silent father, is as cold as their surroundings. But the unshakeable bond between brother and sister creates a vital warmth which glows in spite of the chill and the dark clouds that threaten to overtake their dreams.

Synopsis:

Petterson's raw, poetic novel follows the intense kinship and agonizing separation of a brother and sister in World War II-era Denmark. "To Siberia" is a portrait of siblings bound together powerfully by birth, and separated painfully by circumstance.

Synopsis:

I was fourteen and a half when the Germans came. On that 9th April we woke to the roar of aeroplanes swooping so low over the roofs of the town that we could see the black iron crosses painted on the underside of their wings when we leaned out of the windows and looked up.

 
In this exquisite novel, readers will find the crystalline prose and depth of feeling they adored in Out Stealing Horses, a literary sensation of 2007.
 
A brother and sister are forced ever more closely together after the suicide of their grandfather. Their parents neglect leaves them wandering the streets of their small Danish village. The sister dreams of escaping to Siberia, but it seems increasingly distant as she helplessly watches her brother become more and more involved in resisting the Nazis.

Synopsis:

Born into a troubled family in a Danish seaside town, the heroine of To Siberia clings to her brother, and he to her, with a desperate devotion. The novel tells the story of their powerful bond and their agonizing separation. Neglected by their parents, the two wander the streets of their village as young children, dreaming of a different life. The sister fantasizes about escaping to Siberia, but that dream seems ever more remote as her brother becomes a young man and disappears into the resistance movement against the Nazi occupation. Their separation begins years of wandering for her, and Petterson's novel traces the separate struggles of brother and sister with empathy, insight, and pathos.

With the same crystalline prose that made Out Stealing Horses a bestselling sensation, Per Petterson here draws a portrait of a sister and brother bound together powerfully by birth, and separated painfully by circumstance.

About the Author

Per Petterson won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for his novel Out Stealing Horses, which has been translated into more than thirty languages and was named a Best Book of 2007 by The New York Times.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Teresa Borden, April 22, 2010 (view all comments by Teresa Borden)
A heartbreaking yet incredibly mesmerizing tale of the relationship of a younger sister and her older brother during their difficult childhood in Norway in the late 1930s and early 40s. Their already grim life is further complicated by the arrival of the Nazis and the ensuing incidents that implicate the brother and deeply affect the little sister for life. The details of the setting are absorbing and I found myself rooting for a happy ending while sensing on some level that it was not likely going to happen. Well worth reading for Per Petterson's wonderful prose and sense of place that transports you to the Norwegian seaside in innocent as well as sinister times.
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(4 of 8 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780312428990
Author:
Petterson, Per
Publisher:
Picador USA
Author:
Born, Anne
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Family life
Subject:
Brothers and sisters
Subject:
Bildungsromans
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20090931
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
8.27 x 5.5 x 0.675 in

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Family Life

To Siberia Used Trade Paper
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$6.95 In Stock
Product details 256 pages Picador USA - English 9780312428990 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Petterson's Danish seascape is gorgeous, the lives of his characters are meticulously rendered, and his tracing of their lives is perfect. Guaranteed to take your breath away, To Siberia quietly tells the story of a lovely and innocent childhood opening like a flower in a storm.

"Synopsis" by , In the bitter cold of Danish Jutland, where the sea freezes over and the Nazis have yet to invade, a young girl dreams of one day going on a great journey to Siberia, while her beloved brother Jesper yearns for the warmer climes of Morocco. Their home, with a pious mother who sings hymns all day and a silent father, is as cold as their surroundings. But the unshakeable bond between brother and sister creates a vital warmth which glows in spite of the chill and the dark clouds that threaten to overtake their dreams.
"Synopsis" by , Petterson's raw, poetic novel follows the intense kinship and agonizing separation of a brother and sister in World War II-era Denmark. "To Siberia" is a portrait of siblings bound together powerfully by birth, and separated painfully by circumstance.
"Synopsis" by ,
I was fourteen and a half when the Germans came. On that 9th April we woke to the roar of aeroplanes swooping so low over the roofs of the town that we could see the black iron crosses painted on the underside of their wings when we leaned out of the windows and looked up.

 
In this exquisite novel, readers will find the crystalline prose and depth of feeling they adored in Out Stealing Horses, a literary sensation of 2007.
 
A brother and sister are forced ever more closely together after the suicide of their grandfather. Their parents neglect leaves them wandering the streets of their small Danish village. The sister dreams of escaping to Siberia, but it seems increasingly distant as she helplessly watches her brother become more and more involved in resisting the Nazis.
"Synopsis" by ,

Born into a troubled family in a Danish seaside town, the heroine of To Siberia clings to her brother, and he to her, with a desperate devotion. The novel tells the story of their powerful bond and their agonizing separation. Neglected by their parents, the two wander the streets of their village as young children, dreaming of a different life. The sister fantasizes about escaping to Siberia, but that dream seems ever more remote as her brother becomes a young man and disappears into the resistance movement against the Nazi occupation. Their separation begins years of wandering for her, and Petterson's novel traces the separate struggles of brother and sister with empathy, insight, and pathos.

With the same crystalline prose that made Out Stealing Horses a bestselling sensation, Per Petterson here draws a portrait of a sister and brother bound together powerfully by birth, and separated painfully by circumstance.

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