In the Wake by Per Petterson
A Novel

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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 Per Petterson

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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.
 
Published August 8, 2006 by Thomas Dunne Books. 208 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for In the Wake

The New York Times

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Per Petterson charts the interior landscape of a writer who has been unable to recover since losing his parents and two younger brothers in a ferry accident six years earlier.

Aug 17 2006 | Read Full Review of In the Wake: A Novel

The Guardian

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(Petterson lost his parents and a brother in a ferry accident, too, but prefers to leave this out of his publicity material.) Arvid's life is frozen and yet he keeps moving, driving his beaten-up Mazda through wintry Norwegian landscapes and we keep him company, waiting for a thaw.

Feb 09 2003 | Read Full Review of In the Wake: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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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 ).

May 01 2006 | Read Full Review of In the Wake: A Novel

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John Baker's Blog

I have never complained about anything except badly written books and the world situation, and you don’t get your money back when little Nepalese girls are sold by their families to brothels in Bangkok, or because the World Bank refuses to waive cruel loans to Uganda.

Jan 10 2008 | Read Full Review of In the Wake: A Novel

Reader Rating for In the Wake
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