Per Petterson wins Independent Foreign Fiction Prize

Per Petterson's novel, 'Out Stealing Horses', which was published in the UK in November last year, has won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2006.

Sixteen titles from several countries were originally nominated for the prestigious award which was handed out at the National Portrait Gallery, London, on 2 May. This number was cut down to a final six which in addition to Petterson's novel, included Tahar Ben Jelloun's 'This blinding absence of light', 'Mercedes-Benz' by Pawel Huelle, Imre Kertész's 'Fatelessness', 'The door' by Magdalena Szabó and Dubravka Ugresic's 'The ministry of pain'.

The prize, £10,000, will be shared between the author and the translator, and is supported by the Arts Council England and Champagne Taittinger.

'Out Stealing Horses', translated from Norwegian by Anne Born and published by Harvill Secker, 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.

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.

To read a recent BBC interview with Petterson, click here.

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Per PettersonPhoto: Torunn Nilsen

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

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