2007 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Prize
NORWEGIAN Per Petterson’s Out Stealing Horses (first published in Norwegian in 2003; published in English by Harvill Secker in 2005) took the world’s biggest literary prize for a single work of fiction in English last night. The judges called it “a poignant and moving tale of a changing perspective on the world ... and of nostalgia for a simpler way of life.” The lugubrious and atmospheric tale, competently translated from the Norwegian by Anne Born, tells of a solitary 67-year-old widower who is compelled to remember the traumatic events of his childhood through a chance encounter with someone from the past. His life was changed forever in the summer of 1948 when he was only a fresh-faced teenager. Through his reminiscences the novel brings that distant summer to life and explores how a recovered past can ruffle events in the present. I think Out Stealing Horses is a perfect example of a simple, quiet story that works; it is nostalgic, ethereal and evocative of a place and time. This book also won the 2006 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. Anne Born, who has translated many works of Danish, Swedish and Norwegian literature, is also the translator of his other two novels: In the Wake (2002) and To Siberia (1998). I believe she also translated Jostein Gaarder’s Vita Brevis from the Norwegian in 1998 and Jens Christian Grøndahl’s An Altered Light from the Danish in 2004.