Nominated by:

Deichmanske Bibliotek, Oslo, Norway

Stavanger Bibliotek, Norway

Publisher of nominated edition:

Harvill Secker, UK

2007 – Out Stealing Horses

Per Petterson      

Translated from the original Norwegian by Anne Born

Winner! – Watch Per Petterson’s Acceptance Speech

Part 1  Part 2

2007 Shortlist     2007 Longlist

The Judges’ Citation

Out Stealing Horses is a magical novel that captivates the reader. It records the changing and ever elusive dance of time through the voice of sixty-seven year old Trond Sander, as he recalls his young adulthood against the shadowy aftermath of world war two, and the shock of certain life-defining experiences. Set in the remote Norwegian landscape of spectacular lakes and forests, Per Petterson’s stunning novel is brought to us, in impeccable English, by translator Anne Born.

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. Alongside the solitary self searching of (the narrator) Trond, we encounter a man who, having tragically lost those dear to him, has also ‘lost interest in talking to people’, only to discover that, quite literally on his doorstep, the past reappears and speaks directly back to him.

As recollections converge in his mind, like a latticework of remembrance, and a fascinating chain of coincidences unfold, the here and now of contemporary European experience, such as Chechnya, is never far away, an echo chamber within which historical change, at the turn of the new millennium, reverberates. Facing in both directions at the same time, Trond, and the story-telling which fills Out Stealing Horses, is a representative figure of our time, sculpted out of the stark and unflinching natural beauty of Norway. Out Stealing Horses is a masterful achievement by one of Europe’s finest novelists.

Judges: Hanan Al-Shaykh, Carmen Callil, Lilian Faschinger, Almeida Faria, Gerald Dawe. Non-voting Chair, Judge Eugene. R. Sullivan

About the Book

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 which 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.

About the Author

Per Petterson 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 three novels which have established his reputation as one of Norway’s best fiction writers. To Siberia and In the Wake are also published by Harvill in English translation.