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Ashes in My Mouth, Sand in My Shoes

Per Petterson; Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett
Young Arvid Jansen lives on the outskirts of Oslo. It’s the early sixties; his father works in a shoe factory and his Danish mother works as a cleaner. Arvid has nightmares about crocodiles and still wets his bed at night, but slowly he begins to understand the world around him. Vivid images accompany each new event: a photo of his mother as a young woman makes him cry as he realizes how time passes, and the black car that comes to collect his father on the day Arvid’s grandfather dies reminds him of the passing of his bullfinch. And then, one morning, his teacher tells his class to pray because a nuclear war is looming. Per Petterson’s debut, in which he introduces Arvid Jansen to the world, is a delicate portrait of childhood in all its complexity, its wonders and confusions, that will delight fans of Out Stealing Horses and new readers alike.

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The heartwarming debut that brought Per Petterson, author of the highly acclaimed Out Stealing Horses, to prominence

About the Author

Per  Petterson
Credit: Baard Henriksen

Per Petterson is the author of seven novels, including I Refuse and Out Stealing Horses, which has been translated into fifty languages. Petterson has received the Nordic Council Literature Prize, the Norwegian Critics Prize, and the Brage Prize. He lives in Norway.

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Don Bartlett lives in Norfolk, England, and works as a freelance translator of Scandinavian literature. He has translated, or co-translated, Norwegian novels by Gaute Heivoll (Before I Burn), Karl Ove Knausgaard, Lars Saabye Christensen, Roy Jacobsen (Borders; Child Wonder), Jo Nesbø, and Per Petterson (Ashes in My Mouth, Sand in My Shoes; I Refuse; It’s Fine By Me).
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  • “Dreamy and evanescent, [the stories] recall the opening pages of James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.”The Washington Post
  • “Petterson inhabits Arvid’s mind in simple and plausible prose.”—Chicago Tribune
  • “Petterson uses what’s unspoken to wrench the reader’s heart.”Kirkus Reviews
  • “[Petterson’s writing] packs a powerful punch. . . . A bittersweet read that can be fully savored in one sitting.”—Publishers Weekly
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