To Siberia: Book summary and reviews of To Siberia by Per Petterson

To Siberia

A Novel

By Per Petterson

To Siberia
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2008,
    256 pages.

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About this book

Book Summary

I was fourteen and a half when the Germans came. On that 9th April we woke to the roar of aeroplanes swooping so low over the roofs of the town that we could see the black iron crosses painted on the underside of their wings when we leaned out of the windows and looked up.

In this exquisite novel, readers will find the crystalline prose and depth of feeling they adored in Out Stealing Horses, a literary sensation of 2007.

A brother and sister are forced ever more closely together after the suicide of their grandfather. Their parents’ neglect leaves them wandering the streets of their small Danish village. The sister dreams of escaping to Siberia, but it seems increasingly distant as she helplessly watches her brother become more and more involved in resisting the Nazis.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. The book builds up slowly, casting a spell of beauty and devastation that matches the bleak but dazzling climate." - Publishers Weekly.

"Norwegian writer Petterson is an outstanding talent. Highly recommended." - Library Journal.

"A spare, lyrical novel from Norwegian author Petterson...that possesses historical breadth and a remarkable sense of immediacy." - Kirkus Reviews.

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Claire
To Siberia
Having taught in Siberia for six months I came to know its harsh cold intimately. Petterson's ability to evoke time and place brought me back to the realities of living in a place defined by its starkness and reactions to being occupied. This is wonderful storytelling and I will carry Sistermine with me. I found it also a gem in that Sistermine and her observations about her mother and other women were written by a man, who himself has observed keenly.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Ann
Cold!
The frigid landscape of northern Denmark figures prominently in this sparse and poetic book. And, although unfulfilled, the dream of the unnamed young girl who is the narrator and main character of the book is to go to Siberia - with it's clean, cold landscape. The suicide of a grandfather, a homeland occupied by the Nazis, distant and aloof parents, the death of a beloved brother and an unplanned pregnancy...not the stuff of an easy and quick read, but events that will shape a young girl into a self-reliant and strong woman and also things that will keep the reader tuning the pages to see "what happens next."

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Jennifer
Perfect for Book Clubs
This book would be perfect for a book club, due to its subtle nature. I would love to discuss it with others, find out which things they considered pivotal, what they believe the story is about. Not having this resource available, I still believe this short novel was worth reading. The translation, or the writer, used many run-on sentences that I had to read more than once to figure out - annoying at first, but led me to interact with the text more than I usually do. The understated intensity of the war experience for this Danish brother and sister led me to think a lot about the book when I wasn't reading it - wondering how things would turn out. To me, that is the sign of a pretty good book!

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Patricia
Intriguing but Disappointing
Written in the narrative voice of a young woman coming of age in Denmark during the German occupation, To Siberia is written in varying shades of gray, which overpower the story at times. The narrator jumps from past to present and from Denmark to Norway with little warning which makes the story hard to follow occasionally. However, the book is rich in description, which occasionally overpowers the plot.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Daniel
Didn't pull me in.
Couldn't get into it. Seemed too mundane. Maybe I didn't give it a fair chance, but life's too short to read a book that you can't get into. I frequently found myself wondering what I just read, too much daydreaming.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Rosario
Beautifully Written...
Stark and poetic, beautifully written. I was swept away by this story. I highly recommend this book, although it drags a bit at the beginning, stick with it - you will be glad you did. Great for book clubs, it will generate lovely discussions!

...8 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Per Petterson Author Biography

Photo: Torunn Nilsen

Per Petterson, born in Oslo, Norway in 1952, worked for several years as an unskilled labourer, trained as a librarian, and worked as a bookseller, writer, and translator before publishing his first work, Aske i munnen, sand i skoa (Ash In His Mouth, Sand In His Shoe), a volume of short stories, in 1987. This book was proclaimed one of the decade's most sensational debuts.

Since then he has written a book of essays and several novels that have established his reputation as one of Norway's most significant fiction writers. These are Ekkoland (1989), Det er greit for meg (1992), To Siberia (1996), In the Wake (2000), Out Stealing Horses (2003), Månen over Porten (2004), and I Curse the River of Time (Jeg forbanner tidens elv) (2008 . For To Siberia, Petterson was nominated for the ...

... Full Biography

Name Pronunciation
Per Petterson: PEHR

Other books by Per Petterson at BookBrowse
  • Out Stealing Horses jacket
  • It's Fine By Me jacket
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