Winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
A Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist
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.
At age sixty-seven, Trond has settled into a rustic cabin in an isolated part of eastern Norway to liv the rest of his life with a quiet deliberation. A meeting with his only neighbor, however, forces him to reflect on that fateful summer.
"In this quiet but compelling novel, Trond Sander, a widower nearing seventy, moves to a bare house in remote eastern Norway, seeking the life of quiet contemplation that he has always longed for. A chance encounter with a neighbor—the brother, as it happens, of his childhood friend Jon—causes him to ruminate on the summer of 1948, the last he spent with his adored father, who abandoned the family soon afterward. Trond's recollections center on a single afternoon, when he and Jon set out to take some horses from a nearby farm; what began as an exhilarating adventure ended abruptly and traumatically in an act of unexpected cruelty. Petterson's spare and deliberate prose has astonishing force, and the narrative gains further power from the artful interplay of Trond's childhood and adult perspectives. 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
"Among the agreeable surprises of Per Petterson's novel is the misleading suggestion that the modesty of his narrator's voice foretells a tale of minor events, an account of the sort of photorealism that prevents anything from happening. In fact, the book contains some bold, convincingly states coincidences well outside the range of our highbrow realists . . . The characters living and dead are equally palpable, another small wonder of Out Stealing Horses . . . This short yet spacious and powerful book—in such contrast to the well-larded garrulity of the bulbous American novel today—reminds us of the careful and apropos writing of J.M. Coetzee, W.G. Sebald and Uwe Timm. Petterson's kinship with Knut Hamsun, which he has himself acknowledged, is palpable in Hamsun's Pan, Victoria, and even the lighthearted Dreamers. But nothing should suggest that his superb novel is so embedded in its sources as to be less than a gripping account of such originality as to expand the reader's own experience of life."—Thomas McGuane, The New York Times Book Review (cover review)
"An outsider has galloped through the field to take this year's Independent Foreign Fiction Prize—but what an outsider, and what a field! . . . This is a novel that strikes deep and lingers long . . . like some shattering literary symphony . . . Out Stealing Horses stole our hearts."—The Independent
"Out Stealing Horses is tinged with an autumnal sense of loss and the self-examination of an old man looking back on his life . . . This book is a minor masterpiece of death and delusion in a Nordic land."—The Guardian
"A special miracle of a book . . . The genius of this beautiful, candid work lies in its tone of gentle, if at times angry, reflection. There is no sentimentality, no easy nostalgia, only truths and an honest response to experience."—The Irish Times
"I was completely taken with Out Stealing Horses from the first page. I found it powerful yet so quietly done I could hear myself breathe and I finished with an exhalation of awe."—Amy Tan
"Haunting, minimalist prose and expert pacing give this quiet story from Norway native Petterson (In the Wake) an undeniably authoritative presence."—Kirkus Reviews
"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."—Publishers Weekly