Petterson's 'Out Stealing Horses' wins world’s richest literary prize

Norwegian author Per Petterson’s acclaimed novel 'Out Stealing Horses' has won the €100,000 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, beating off stiff competition from seven established names such as Salman Rushdie and Julian Barnes.

The €100,000 prize was awarded to Petterson on 14 June by the chairperson of IMPAC, Miroslav Palas, in the Irish capital's City Hall, and a specially commissioned Waterford Crystal trophy was presented by the Lord Mayor of Dublin. 'Out Stealing Horses', which was the only translated title on the shortlist, won the author €75,000 and the book's translator, Anne Born, €25,000. The shortlist also included the following titles: 'Arthur and George' by Julian Barnes, 'Shalimar the Clown' by Salman Rushdie, 'Slow Man' by J.M. Coetzee, 'A Long Long Way' by Sebastian Barry, 'Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close' by Jonathan Safran Foer, 'The Short Day Dying' by Peter Hobbs, and 'No Country for Old Men' by Cormac McCarthy.

'Out Stealing Horses', which was published in the UK in November 2005, has already won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2006. It was translated from Norwegian by Anne Born and published by Harvill Secker, and is described as a moving tale about feelings of isolation and of the painful loss of innocence and of traditional ways of life gone for ever.

The judges called the book a "magical novel that captivates the reader" and said it is a masterful achievement by one of Europe’s finest novelists. "Out Stealing Horses is an intensely lyrical and evocative novel that handles with a deft and seemingly effortless prose style the transition of the past into memory, and its shifting, unpredictable persistence."

In 1948, when he is fifteen, Trond spends a summer in the country with his father. The events - the accidental death of a child, his best friend’s feelings of guilt and eventual disappearance, his father’s decision to leave the family for another woman – will change his life forever. An early morning adventure out stealing horses leaves Trond bruised and puzzled by his friend Jon’s sudden breakdown. The tragedy that lies behind this scene becomes the catalyst for the two boys’ families gradually to fall apart. As a 67-year-old man, and following the death of his wife, Trond has moved to an isolated part of Norway to live in solitude. But a chance encounter with a character from the fateful summer of 1948 brings the painful memories of that year flooding back, and will leave Trond even more convinced of his decision to end his days alone.

The Independent's reviewer, Paul Binding, said of the book: "Anne Born's sensitive translation does justice to an impressive novel of rare and exemplary moral courage, and commendably makes convincing the confrontations of different individuals, different milieux." To read the full review, click here.

The Daily Express's Gloria Trapezaris also praised the book: 'What Petterson catches so effectively is the thing that haunts all of us, the knowledge of how fragile life is, and the anticipation of the moment this is proven to us.  He captures the essence of a man's vast existence with a clean-lined freshness that hits you like a burst of winter air - surprising and breathtaking...The narrative is a beautiful balance between an anchored sentience and a  naturally-flowing stream of consciousness. Petterson writes with robust unpretentiousness, and his prose may be unadorned yet it is porous with atmospheric sentiment. His story gathers pace like growing up, and stimulates heart and mind like a brisk country walk.'

Per Petterson, winner of the Norwegian Critics Award and the Booksellers’ Best Book of the Year Award, was born in 1952 and was a librarian and bookseller before he published his first work, a volume of short stories, in 1987. Since then he has written a book of essays and five novels that have established his reputation as one of Norway’s best fiction writers. 'To Siberia' and 'In the Wake' (which was longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2004) are also published by Harvill in English translation.

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Per Petterson has won the 2007 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.Photo: Torunn Nilsen

Per Petterson's novel 'Out Stealing Horses' is now out in the UKPhoto: Harvill Secker

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