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In the Wake: A Novel
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In the Wake: A Novel

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  857 Ratings  ·  121 Reviews
Arvid has lost his parents and his two younger brothers in a ferry accident. Only he and his brother are left alive. The novel he is writing about his father is stalled, the grief and guilt he feels at having survived are too overwhelming. It is as though Arvid has become dislocated from the flow of life. His only human contact is with his Kurdish neighbour, and a woman wh ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published August 8th 2006 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published 2000)
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Apr 01, 2017 Dolors rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tireless walkers
Shelves: read-in-2017
There is a feeling of lethargy that slowly percolates under your skin as you surf the troubled waters of Arvid’s grief and guilt. A man of forty-three who has spent the last six years of his life trying to get over the tragic events that took away his parents and younger siblings. His older brother, who shares his disgust for the precariousness of life, is the only family he’s got left. Everybody else is gone.

Arvid has forgotten the face of the mother of his two daughters, whom he can’t look in
M. Sarki
May 10, 2014 M. Sarki rated it really liked it

I find nothing pretentious or false in a Per Petterson novel. At least in the first two I have read thus far. To handle grief in the most tragic sense of it and bring it off in a believable tale of circuitous events all a part of the greater whole is truly remarkable. There is no development in this novel that is not understood and certainly applicable to a person with the character of Arvid Jansen. From the awful lonely and severe grimacing of the opening
Feb 25, 2017 Kalina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Бавната скандинавска литература, където тишината е оглушителна, самотата е споделена, а студът топли.

"Гледам нагоре между дърветата към небето, което е съвсем ясно и пълно със звезди и бавно се върти; целият свят се върти бавно и е едно голямо празно пространство. Тишината е навсякъде и между мен и звездите няма нищо."

"Снимката, която си направили, стои в едно чекмедже при мен. На нея са само двамата, но аз долавям присъствието и на останалите. Те се притискат към ръба на снимката и искат да се
Jun 19, 2008 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who are interested in knowing more about loss and guilt
When I first decided to buy this novel it was because I believed it dealt with loss. It does but if loss is the disease then what are its symptoms? One is guilt, in the case of the narrator of this novel, survivor guilt. Arvid and his brother are the only surviving members of their family. Six years on both of their lives are falling to pieces. In fact, they've both about hit rock bottom and then his brother attempts suicide. How would this affect a man who acts as if he's lost everything alread ...more
Aug 19, 2007 William rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the Wake reads like a dream diary in which emotions, ideas, and relationships emerge and submerge, never fully formed, but living, in their way, distinct and ever-present, haunting those who keep them close. This is a novel in which Arvid Jansen comes to narrative consciousness with his face pressed against the window of a book store, as if waking from a coma. It is, in fact, his brother who we find in a coma, while learning the rest of Jansen's family, appearing through flashbacks or via the ...more
Dec 15, 2008 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first thought upon closing this book is that it was both sad and sweet, though I suppose the 'sweetness' is really humor, certainly nothing saccharine. And the sadness isn't really in the words either, but in what the reader takes from the words. Understated, subtle book.

Don't read this book if you need a plot or even something to happen (not something I need at all) and I ended up liking the book despite some passages that seemed pointless -- I realized these passages are important to the th
Apr 28, 2009 Jeb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent. Moody. Powerfully subtle. Per Peterson is my new favorite.

I started In the Wake about six months ago and made it only 30 pages before giving up. I’m very impatient with books that don’t have a clear narrative, and this one doesn’t—at least in the beginning. It alternates between present-tense action and dreams and memory, and at first it’s hard to distinguish between the different threads. At Mariah’s insistence, I gave it another shot, and I came to appreciate the structure (or lack
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Nov 25, 2008 Jeanette "Astute Crabbist" rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeanette by: Charisse
It's hard to say much about this book without giving away what there is to discover by reading it. It's like a description by Arvid, the main character, in his own words, of the circuitous path he is taking in trying to reconcile his grief and survivor's guilt about the accidental deaths of his parents and two brothers. He is by turns aimless, anxious, restless, and disoriented, looking for something---absolution, maybe? Hope? He combines old memories with descriptions of what's happening in the ...more
Jul 14, 2013 Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I generally shy away from books about grief and grieving, but like Petterson's writing enough to give this one a shot. It is not a light read, but neither is it depressing. The writing and the observation of humanity are once again amazing. There are some wonderful meditations on the power of narrative to connect, and to teach. He also revisits one of his common themes: that we do not understand our parents (especially our fathers) until years after they are gone, and are then left to wonder if ...more
Doug Wells
Oct 30, 2008 Doug Wells rated it really liked it
This is a dark and disturbing book - an amazing glimpse into pure grief and despair, all the more difficult knowing that Petterson lived this grief. That said, as I came towards the end of the book, I found myself slowing down so it wouldn't end. Once again, I find Petterson's writing some of the best that I've come across in quite some time.
Dec 28, 2008 Bettie☯ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exquisitely written, bleak in texture, and hauntingly realistic
Mar 27, 2017 Wanda marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wanda by: Dolors
27 MAR 2017 - spied on Dolors' feed. Thank you, Dolors.
Sep 20, 2016 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the Wake is the third of Per Petterson's novels that I have read, yet it is the first of his novels translated into English. I previously read Out Stealing Horses and I Curse the River of Time. Each of these books has increased my esteem for this award-winning Norwegian author.

In the Wake tells the story of Arvid, a writer in his early forties. It is a Proustian tale in the sense that the bulk of the story is built on Arvid's memories of events that have shaped his life. The actual timespan o
Oct 30, 2009 Tony rated it did not like it
Shelves: scandinavian
Arvid, the protagonist in In the Wake, scuttles somnambulistically through life years after the deaths of his parents and two youngest brothers in a ferry fire (based on a real event). Flashbacks inform us that he didn't have much gumption before the accident either. So the author has us follow him. When he goes for a walk we learn what he is wearing, how cold it is, whether he is happy or sad about the weather, which tune is going through his head. When he drives, we are assured of the route, t ...more
Feb 10, 2011 Asma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this story about a forty-ish Norwegian man, Arvid Jansen, who bounces back from being emotionally distraught after a boat tragedy takes the lives of his father, his mother, and two of his three brothers on April 7, 1990. Throughout the story, he slowly comes back to life over six years of bereavement, reminiscing and dreaming about his father's life and their relationship, recounting his surviving brothers' reactions, and making new social connections in his block of housing near ...more
Dec 04, 2008 Camilla rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Camilla by: miller
I don't know, this book left me cold. I loved Out Stealing Horses, so imagined I would like this one as well...Maybe I would like it if I read it another time, but this month I just don't seem to have wanted to follow Arvid's careening emotions and memories and car drives. Cold, right? The only parts I really felt something for were his tender feelings towards Mrs. Grunde (though his feelings towards her son were another matter), but then, I suppose it was the only time Arvid really felt anythin ...more
Dec 09, 2007 Nigel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A short but intense read that is downbeat and emotionally draining. Told mostly in flashback it's the story of a broken man who has lost his parents and two brothers in an accident, become estranged from his wife and children and struggles to work out his relationship with his late father.
It's vividly told in the first person by a man fast losing his marbles but is not totally without humour. There are some longeurs however and the writing is at times a little too self conciously knowing.
May 03, 2014 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scandinavian
A quietly powerful story of a man slowly coming to grips with tragedy, the dissolution of his marriage and the disappointments of his past. This book hasn't gotten the acclaim enjoyed by the author's Out Stealing Horses, but I expect that the sad but somehow hopeful story of Arvid Jansen's life will stay with me much longer than that acclaimed novel has.
Lisa P
Apr 02, 2008 Lisa P rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had trouble holding on to the minimalist style and dreariness. Even though it was brief, it was somehow a little rambling and overly-introspective.
Oct 02, 2008 Bill rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read this book mainly based on my very high opinions of his more recent offering, "Out Stealing Horses." It's a decent meditation on loss, but still felt mediocre.
H Gibson
May 17, 2017 H Gibson rated it did not like it
This is the first Per Petterson novel I've read, and I own another. I must say, based on this one, I'm not looking forward to reading it. I usually enjoy stream of consciousness novels, but this one rambled on about the most mundane topics. I didn't feel any connection with the characters. Even if I ended up loathing one, at least I could say the book prompted an emotion. Basically, it was about a whole lot of nothing. I had high hopes based on the jacket flap synopsis. This book never came clos ...more
Mary Dayhoff
Feb 20, 2017 Mary Dayhoff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sep 13, 2009 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Norwegian novelist Per Peterson uses Oslo and the Norwegian wilderness as the setting to tell the story of Arvid Jansen. Jansen's interior monologue opens the reader to his world, in which he seems to be stranger. Throughout the narrative, Jansen comes to terms with the losses that have left him with no family and, in effect, no identity. As he deals with the revelations that open his past to him, the memory of the final mystery that has defined his life frees him to start anew, not necessarily ...more
Jun 18, 2009 yb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It cannot be a good sign that I brought this book on vacation, apparently forgetting that I read it six months ago. After reading "Out Stealing Horses", I was so enamored of Petterson that I immediately purchased this novel, which contained relatively few of the charms of "Horses" that I had to read a few pages to remember that I took this on my previous trip.

"In the Wake" follows Arvid in the aftermath of a number of person tragedies. He is struggling with the day to day tasks of surviving the
I read this a few weeks ago & still don't really know what I think about this book. The author liked randomness & the abstract - that I know. Essentially, that's what this whole book is - randomness & abstract. Having read it, it feels like the kind of book I shouldn't have liked, but I think I actually did like it.

In the Wake is about a guy who has hit rock bottom years after his parents & 2 of his brothers are killed in a fire on a ferry. The book begins with Arvid Jansen comin
James Goertel
Jan 08, 2012 James Goertel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first Petterson I read was 'Out Stealing Horses' and its quiet, cold, simple story dropped me into a landscape that was both literal and emotional - the type of stark reality that heightens our senses, but also makes us wary - of the dark, of the trian-like wind, of stepping onto the ice of a lake and breaking through. I have since read 'I Curse the River of Time' and now 'In the Wake' and what I see with both are Petterson's gifts to tell a familiar, familial story - one that mines emotions ...more
Jan 10, 2008 Rick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
We were up in Westchester, browsing in a Border’s in Mount Kisco, and I got the urge to get Petterson’s Out Stealing Horses, which had been the subject of an enthusiastic front page review by Thomas McGuane. (It would be more accurate that I got the urge to buy a book and tried to limit it by focusing on one book on my wish list.) They did not have it but they had this earlier novel of Petterson’s and I bought it. In the Wake is good, very good. A terse, troubled story of a man estranged from hi ...more
Oct 01, 2014 Mafaldine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ik nam deze pocket mee voor 2,5 euro op het boekenfestijn, en dat was 2,5 euro goed besteed.
Wat kan ik vertellen dat al niet op de achterflap staat, zonder spoilers weg te geven? Hoofdpersonage en verteller Arvid verloor zes jaar geleden zijn ouders en jongere broers in een ramp met een veerboot. Zowel met hem als met zijn oudere broer is het sindsdien alleen maar bergafwaarts gegaan. Echtscheiding, werkloosheid, zinloosheid vooral. Via flashbacks en dromen beleven we hoe Arvid worstelt met de
May 24, 2009 Nicola rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I am adding this book because I just finished and absolutely adored To Siberia by Petterson. I will now read anything by this author. I thought that To Siberia was even better than Out Stealing Horses. This is one of those authors that simply writes so well, that the subject matter is irrelevant. This book, In the Wake, is about the author's loss of family when the MS Estonia sank in 1994. This was a huge catastrophy in Scandinavia, when it happened. I was livining in Stockholm at the time...... ...more
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Petterson knew from the age of 18 that he wanted to be a writer, but didn't embark on this career for many years - his debut book, the short story collection Aske i munnen, sand i skoa, (Ashes in the Mouth, Sand in the Shoes) was published 17 years later, when Petterson was 35. Previously he had worked for years in a factory as an unskilled labourer, as his parents had done before him, and had als ...more
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“I remember a lot of dreams. Sometimes they are hard to distinguish from what has really happened. That is not so terrible. It is the same with books.” 12 likes
“...I see the shape of the wind on the water...” 5 likes
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