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In the Wake

In the Wake Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Per Petterson’s masterful American debut novel is the story of a man whose life stands still after a terrible accident. Spanning an intense period of only a few weeks, In the Wake features 43 year-old Arvid, a writer who lost his parents and younger brothers in a ferry accident some years before. It is especially against his repressed memories--of his father and mother, and of his still-living brother--that Arvid must regard and define his own life.
 
As Arvid struggles with memories, existential questions, and a deep sense of the world’s injustice, he remains overwhelmed by grief, and guilt at having survived. Work on his novel stalls as he moves through life in a cold haze. But while Arvid’s only human contact is with his Kurdish neighbor and with a woman whom he glimpses in a flat across the road, it is this routine contact that begins to slowly remind him of the world---of the beauty and humor we can find in the mundane. As he is reminded, his memories begin to return, and he begins to write again.
 
Poignant, restrained, darkly funny, and at times unbearably moving, In the Wake takes on terrible tragedy as one man begins to reconnect with the natural world--at times our only source of solace when we’ve been left to survive in the wake.

Review:

"In his impressive American debut, veteran Norwegian novelist Petterson chronicles Arvid Jansen's breakdown in the six years since his parents and brother were killed in a ferry accident (modeled after the 1994 sinking of the MS Estonia). Arvid wanders around Oslo and through the Norwegian countryside, sifting through memories of his stern, ultracompetent father and nursing an infatuation with his attractive neighbor, Mrs. Grinde. After Arvid's architect brother attempts suicide, Arvid tries to reconnect with him and pull them both out of the abyss. Despite the gloomy subject matter, Arvid is a witty, self-deprecating narrator who fought with his family while they were alive and misses them terribly now that they're gone. This novel won several literary prizes in Europe, where the Estonia disaster is well known. The events may not feel as immediate to American readers, but many will find Arvid's path of loss and redemption affecting nonetheless." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

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

Synopsis:

When Arvid Jansen comes-to one morning in the doorway of a bookstore in Oslo, Norway, his grief comes back to him in devastating flashes: His parents and his brothers are dead, he has lost touch with his wife and daughters, abandoned his career as a writer and bookseller. His old life is gone.

 

In the Wake is the story of Arvid's first steps toward resuming that life, of his gradual confrontation with everything he lost and ultimately with his own role in the disaster that killed his family.

 

Told with the insight and moral force of his countryman Knut Hamsun, In the Wake is the American debut of a treasured European writer.

Synopsis:

Per Petterson's masterful American debut novel is the story of a man whose life stands still after a terrible accident. Spanning an intense period of only a few weeks, In the Wake features 43 year-old Arvid, a writer who lost his parents and younger brothers in a ferry accident some years before. It is especially against his repressed memories--of his father and mother, and of his still-living brother--that Arvid must regard and define his own life.
 
As Arvid struggles with memories, existential questions, and a deep sense of the world's injustice, he remains overwhelmed by grief, and guilt at having survived. Work on his novel stalls as he moves through life in a cold haze. But while Arvid's only human contact is with his Kurdish neighbor and with a woman whom he glimpses in a flat across the road, it is this routine contact that begins to slowly remind him of the world---of the beauty and humor we can find in the mundane. As he is reminded, his memories begin to return, and he begins to write again.
 
Poignant, restrained, darkly funny, and at times unbearably moving, In the Wake takes on terrible tragedy as one man begins to reconnect with the natural world--at times our only source of solace when we've been left to survive in the wake.

About the Author

Per Petterson was a librarian and bookseller before publishing his first work, a volume of short stories, in 1987. Since then, his novels have established him as one of Norway's outstanding novelists. This is his first novel to be published in the United States.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

kholtsberry, August 30, 2006 (view all comments by kholtsberry)
I found Petterson portrayal of a man unable to overcome the tragic loss of his parents and younger siblings interesting and well done. But it just didn't have the emotional impact that other reviews noted. Perhaps, as PW noted, because I have no connection to the Estonia tragedy that the story is based on.

I could appreciate Petterson's skill in capturing the chaos and confusion that comes from such a loss, and the pull of depression than can result, but the book has a sparseness that left me wanting a little more meat to the story.

Some have compared it to Auster's Book of Illusions which also deals with tragedy, but Auster is complex and multi-layered where Petterson is sparse and minimalist.

In The Wake is an interesting exploration of loss and the search for meaning in the aftermath of tragedy, but its emotional power never quite developed.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780312343835
Subtitle:
A Novel
Publisher:
Picador
Translator:
Born, Anne
Author:
Petterson, Per
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Grief
Subject:
Bereavement
Subject:
Consolation
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20070417
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
240
Dimensions:
8.31 x 5.52 x 0.67 in

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

In the Wake
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 240 pages Thomas Dunne Books - English 9780312343835 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In his impressive American debut, veteran Norwegian novelist Petterson chronicles Arvid Jansen's breakdown in the six years since his parents and brother were killed in a ferry accident (modeled after the 1994 sinking of the MS Estonia). Arvid wanders around Oslo and through the Norwegian countryside, sifting through memories of his stern, ultracompetent father and nursing an infatuation with his attractive neighbor, Mrs. Grinde. After Arvid's architect brother attempts suicide, Arvid tries to reconnect with him and pull them both out of the abyss. Despite the gloomy subject matter, Arvid is a witty, self-deprecating narrator who fought with his family while they were alive and misses them terribly now that they're gone. This novel won several literary prizes in Europe, where the Estonia disaster is well known. The events may not feel as immediate to American readers, but many will find Arvid's path of loss and redemption affecting nonetheless." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by ,
"A profound novel. Masterfully written ... both timely and timeless. A beautifully enlightening treatise on grief and identity disguised as a novel. Highly recommended."---Library Journal

"Synopsis" by ,
When Arvid Jansen comes-to one morning in the doorway of a bookstore in Oslo, Norway, his grief comes back to him in devastating flashes: His parents and his brothers are dead, he has lost touch with his wife and daughters, abandoned his career as a writer and bookseller. His old life is gone.

 

In the Wake is the story of Arvid's first steps toward resuming that life, of his gradual confrontation with everything he lost and ultimately with his own role in the disaster that killed his family.

 

Told with the insight and moral force of his countryman Knut Hamsun, In the Wake is the American debut of a treasured European writer.

"Synopsis" by ,
Per Petterson's masterful American debut novel is the story of a man whose life stands still after a terrible accident. Spanning an intense period of only a few weeks, In the Wake features 43 year-old Arvid, a writer who lost his parents and younger brothers in a ferry accident some years before. It is especially against his repressed memories--of his father and mother, and of his still-living brother--that Arvid must regard and define his own life.
 
As Arvid struggles with memories, existential questions, and a deep sense of the world's injustice, he remains overwhelmed by grief, and guilt at having survived. Work on his novel stalls as he moves through life in a cold haze. But while Arvid's only human contact is with his Kurdish neighbor and with a woman whom he glimpses in a flat across the road, it is this routine contact that begins to slowly remind him of the world---of the beauty and humor we can find in the mundane. As he is reminded, his memories begin to return, and he begins to write again.
 
Poignant, restrained, darkly funny, and at times unbearably moving, In the Wake takes on terrible tragedy as one man begins to reconnect with the natural world--at times our only source of solace when we've been left to survive in the wake.
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