Synopses & Reviews
We were going out stealing horses. That was what he said, standing at the door to the cabin where I was spending the summer with my father. I was fifteen. It was 1948 and one of the first days of July.
Trond's friend Jon often appeared at his doorstep with an adventure in mind for the two of them. But this morning was different. What began as a joy ride on "borrowed" horses ends with Jon falling into a strange trance of grief. Trond soon learns what befell Jon earlier that day — an incident that marks the beginning of a series of vital losses for both boys.
Set in the easternmost region of Norway, Out Stealing Horses begins with an ending. Sixty-seven-year-old Trond has settled into a rustic cabin in an isolated area to live the rest of his life with a quiet deliberation. A meeting with his only neighbor, however, forces him to reflect on that fateful summer.
"Award-winning Norwegian novelist Petterson renders the meditations of Trond Sander, a man nearing 70, dwelling in self-imposed exile at the eastern edge of Norway in a primitive cabin. Trond's peaceful existence is interrupted by a meeting with his only neighbor, who seems familiar. The meeting pries loose a memory from a summer day in 1948 when Trond's friend Jon suggests they go out and steal horses. That distant summer is transformative for Trond as he reflects on the fragility of life while discovering secrets about his father's wartime activities. The past also looms in the present: Trond realizes that his neighbor, Lars, is Jon's younger brother, who 'pulls aside the fifty years with a lightness that seems almost indecent.' Trond becomes immersed in his memory, recalling that summer that shaped the course of his life while, in the present, Trond and Lars prepare for the winter, allowing Petterson to dabble in parallels both bold and subtle. Petterson coaxes out of Trond's reticent, deliberate narration a story as vast as the Norwegian tundra. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"This short yet spacious and powerful book...reminds us of the careful and apropos writing of J. M. Coetzee, W. G. Sebald and Uwe Timm." Thomas McGuane, New York Times
"The novel's incidents and lush but precise descriptions...are on a par with those of Cather, Steinbeck, Berry, and Hemingway, and its emotional force and flavor are equivalent to what those authors can deliver, too." Booklist
"Haunting, minimalist prose and expert pacing give this quiet story from Norway native Petterson an undeniably authoritative presence." Kirkus Reviews
"Petterson captures perfectly the flavor of adolescence." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"American readers should feel fortunate to have this beautiful translation of Petterson's work; finally, we are given the opportunity to step inside his graceful, deeply felt universe." Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Petterson has established his reputation abroad, winning several international prizes...but he deserves critical acclaim here as well. Highly recommended for all fiction collections." Library Journal
"[R]emarkable....Now and then a book comes along that deserves the label 'classic.' Out Stealing Horses is in that class, a rough woodcut that portrays the very mystery of life itself." Dallas Morning News
"A gripping account of such originality as to expand the reader's own experience of life."--Thomas McGuane, The New York Times Book Review
"Read Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson. From the first terse sentences of this mesmerizing Norwegian novel about youth, memory, and, yes, horse stealing, you know you're in the hands of a master storyteller."--Newsweek
"That's the effect of Per Petterson's award-winning novel: It hits you in the heart at close range."--Alan Cheuse, NPR's All Things Considered
"A masterpiece of tough romance . . . One of my favorite two or three new novels to appear this year."--The New York Sun
"Petterson's spare and deliberate prose has astonishing force. . . . Loss is conveyed with all the intensity of a boy's perception but acquires new resonance in the brooding consciousness of the older man."--The New Yorker
"A marvelous book."--The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Petterson fluently jumbles his chronology, sustaining mysteries within several subplots and vivifying evergreen ideas about determinism and the bonds of family. But the real trick is in the way everything finally, neatly converges into an emotional jolt."--Entertainment Weekly (
“Pettersons spare and deliberate prose has astonishing force.” —The New Yorker
“A gripping account of such originality as to expand the readers own experience of life.” —The New York Times Book Review “Out Stealing Horses looks like a charming but modest chamber-piece. In retrospect—and this is a novel that strikes deep and lingers long—it feels more like some shattering literary symphony.” —The Independent
“A . . . miracle of a book.” —The Irish Times
Out Stealing Horses has been embraced across the world as a classic, a novel of universal relevance and power. Panoramic and gripping, it tells the story of Trond Sander, a 67-year-old man who has moved from the city to a remote, riverside cabin, only to have all the turbulence, grief, and overwhelming beauty of his youth come back to him one night while he's out on a walk. From the moment Trond sees a strange figure coming out of the dark behind his home, the reader is immersed in a decades-deep story of searching and loss, and in the precise, irresistible prose of a newly crowned master of fiction.
About the Author
Per Petterson is the author of five novels, including In the Wake and To Siberia. Out Stealing Horses has won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, and the Norwegian Booksellers' Prize. A former librarian and bookseller, Petterson lives in Oslo, Norway.
Review A Day
"It's a masculine and spare story, and Petterson tells it in sentences stripped of emotion and literary pretense....The style befits not only the stark Norwegian landscape, but it's perfectly befitting a man as emotionally distant as Trond." Peter Martin, Esquire
(read the entire Esquire review