I Refuse by Per Petterson (Translated by Don Bartlett) - review by Leonora Craig Cohen

Leonora Craig Cohen

Siri Says No

I Refuse


Harvill Secker 282pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Per Petterson is one of the biggest success stories of contemporary Norwegian literature. Winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for the celebrated Out Stealing Horses, he is recognised abroad as well as at home. Like his countryman Karl Ove Knausgaard, he seems drawn to themes of darkness and loss. This is understandable, given that Petterson lost his mother, father, brother and niece in the Scandinavian Star ferry disaster in 1990. Many of his novels deal with repressed familial and political legacies of unhappiness and betrayal, and they often comment on the effect of history upon the present.

I Refuse cuts between 2006 in Oslo and the 1960s and 1970s in a remote village called Mørk. It begins with a chance encounter between former friends Jim and Tommy. Jim is unemployed and spends his nights fishing by a bridge outside Oslo. Tommy is now very wealthy, in contrast

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