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To Siberia Paperback – 7 Aug 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (7 Aug. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099523442
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099523444
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.4 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 263,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Per Petterson was born in Oslo in 1952 and worked for several years as an unskilled labourer and a bookseller. He made his literary breakthrough in 2003 with the prizewinning novel Out Stealing Horses, which has been published in forty-nine languages and won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.

Product Description

Review

"A compassionate, moving but clear-eyed view of family relationships... Overwhelming emotional power" (Independent)

"One of the past decade's most moving novels" (Guardian)

"Beautifully written....wistfully sad... Petterson is a writer of great talent and originality" (Scotsman)

"The past and present collide almost violently, and it all sneaks up on you in a way that makes you catch your breath" (New Yorker)

"A stunning introduction to a writer" (Washington Post)

Book Description

IMPAC Winner Per Petterson's second novel - the stark, poignant tale of the bond between a brother and sister.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 4 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
Firmly rooted in the harsh Scandinavian landscape which informs every aspect of his writing, Per Petterson creates novels that appear to spring fully grown from the rocky soil of his Norwegian background. His characters are hardy people who rein in their passions, except when under the influence of alcohol, subduing their private griefs in the cold and brittle emotional climate which surrounds them. His plots, like life, consist mainly of fragile moments--moments of great significance for the individuals living them, but often lacking in drama on a grander scale, and when traumas occur, they are simply accepted as part of life.

To Siberia, the latest of Petterson's novels to be translated into English (though it was written in 1996), continues these themes. Set in Skagen, at the tip of Jutland, it features an unnamed speaker, who is age five when the novel opens. Her father is a carpenter/joiner, one of the best; her extremely religious mother creates and sings hymns. Neither pays much attention to her. Almost anonymous, the little girl comes closest to having a name when her devoted brother Jesper refers to her as "Sistermine." Though Jesper is three years older, the two spend much time together, sharing their dreams--Jesper planning to become a Socialist and going to Morocco, while Sistermine intends to travel from Moscow to Vladivostok on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Though she knows that Siberia is cold, she also believes that the Siberians have furs to keep them warm, and that's all that is important to her at this stage of her life.

Time moves back and forth here, and we know from the beginning that the novel consists of reminiscences by a sixty-year-old speaker whose brother died thirty years before.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gerard Dagnall on 4 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
The books seemed to me to be written in two parts. The first was a wonderful story of brother and sister growing up, harsh at times, but written written so well it seems like an autobiography. The second is the reality of leaving your childhood behind and realising your life isn't going to follow the path you thought it would. Bleak at times but leaves you with a small glimmer of hope for the future. Recommended.
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Format: Paperback
This is the third novel of Per Petterson's that I've read. Thanks to the Vine program, I first read It's Fine By Me, which led me to actively seek out Out Stealing Horses - with the encouragement of a fellow Amazon reviewer. I wasn't satiated by any means, and with his encouragement, chose this one. I had finished the first chapter without realizing that this novel is not set in Norway like the other two, but rather at the extreme northern end of Jutland, in Denmark.

The narrator is a young girl, and the story commences during the Great Depression. It is a tough, "gritty" existence, as so many others experienced during that time. She had an older brother, Jesper, and they rely on each other growing up in an unloving family. Her mother is remote - finding her salvation in religion. Many others, as they do at that latitude in particular, find salvation in the bottle. The grandparents live on a farm, where life is tough and hard; even a hardscrabble existence in a small town looks better in comparison. Both have dreams of getting away from their humdrum existence, to distant lands, she chooses Siberia (oddly, since she does not like the cold), and Jesper chooses Morocco. One makes it, the other one does not.

I really like the way Petterson unfolds his stories, with matter-of-fact narrative, and a confirmation of a key event occurring in a single sentence. There are also those hints of events in the larger world, which the old men debate: Spain.
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By gerardpeter on 9 Sept. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a somewhat melancholy account of the life of a Danish girl from childhood to her early 20s. It is set in the 1930s and 1940s. Her experiences are defined by the Nazi occupation of Denmark. Her family-life is bleak, friends are few. Her closest relationship is with her brother, Jesper. The novel lacking action is essentially about the narrator's relationships, which at best are but briefly satisfactory. The girl - writing as an older woman - seems hard and frozen/frigid, but capable of extreme acts [drug-taking, random sex]. I found it depressing, in fact too depressing.
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