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Book Title

To Siberia

A Novel
Author 1
Per Petterson; Translated from the Norwegian by Anne Born
That winter everything turns into ice. There is snow in the streets, snow on the fields and the ice lies shining on the frozen sea right out to the small islands called Hirsholmene when the wind blows low from the north and sweeps aside everything in its way.

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. The Danish warship Peder Skram was anchored in the roads outside the harbour, but it merely lay there silently and did not fire a single shot.

In this exquisite novel, a young woman looks back with muted nostalgia on the harsh realities of her childhood and the consequences of her choices.

Her distant and difficult parents provide little comfort of any kind, but their absence allows her a deep and unshakeable bond with her beloved brother. She and Jesper vowed together that they would leave Denmark one day he longed for warm Morocco, but she always dreamt of Siberia, for its skies that were cold and clear, where it was easy to breathe and easy to see for long distances. A great journey to Siberia eludes her, but she winds her way toward adulthood with its attendant sexuality and independence and she longs to protect Jesper as he takes greater and greater risks resisting the Nazi occupation of Denmark.

With spare, mesmerizing prose, Petterson explores a life that is outwardly barren but sharply etched, charged with meaning.


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A brilliant novel of lost innocence from the internationally best-selling author of Out Stealing Horses and "a master storyteller"—Newsweek


About the Author

Per  Petterson
Credit: Baard Henriksen
Per Petterson is the author of eight novels, including Men in My Situation and Out Stealing Horses, which has been translated into more than fifty languages. Petterson has received the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the Nordic Council Literature Prize, and the Norwegian Critics Prize. He lives in Norway.
More by author


  • “Reading a Petterson novel is like falling into a northern landscape painting—all shafts of light and clear palpable chill.”—Time
  • “Makes you catch your breath.”—The New Yorker
  • “Cast(s) a spell of beauty and devastation…dazzling.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
  • To Siberia is a darkly beautiful story.”—Los Angeles Times
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