Diane's Reviews > In the Wake

In the Wake by Per Petterson
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Sep 13, 09

Read in September, 2009

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 a happy man, but a man capable of dealing with a forever changed future.

Having spent a couple of weeks in Norway ten years ago, I enjoyed the setting of In the Wake. Jansen's take on the setting is grimmer than mine was, but I was there as a tourist and didn't have the sad connections to the country as homeland as Jansen had. The Norwegian woman who served as a host while I was there pointed out to the group I was with that the suicide rate in Norway was extremely high, especially among young men. I was there in August when everything was in bloom and the weather was beautiful, but having lived in Michigan, I can imagine the dark winter when snow covers everything and how much of a downer that atmosphere can be.

Peterson's style reminds me of James Joyce. The only problem I found with the book was with some of the translation choices, but I suppose that's to be expected.

This book is not for everyone, but I liked its darkness.
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