I Refuse

Petterson, Per: Jeg nekter

Winner of the Booksellers' Prize 2012
Nominated to the Youth Critics' Prize 2012 
Nominated to the P2 Listeners' Prize 2012
One of the 10 Best Fiction Books 2014, Guardian
One of the Best Fiction Books 2014, TLS
One of the Best Fiction Books 2014, Sunday Morning Herald

Two men meet by accident on a bridge one early morning. Once they were best friends – now Tommy and Jim haven’t seen each other in 35 years. Back then, Tommy and his sister were left by their mother, and later by their abusive father. Jim, who lived alone with his religious mother, went to high school and became a socialist. Then one winter, Jim started to doubt whether he was deserving of the friendship. And now, Jim is standing on the bridge, fishing, when Tommy drives by in his expensive, new Mercedes. We follow both men during the course of the fateful day that follows.

Per Petterson’s outstanding new novel is broader in scope than many of his previous novels, but as powerful and moving as anything he has written.

Praise for I REFUSE:

“He has a distinctive voice, moving around in the gray areas, does not tell too much ... The pages are impregnated with a clear sadness ... Petterson twists our heart”

“A strong and poignant writing ... His books are the kind that stay ... Nobody but Per Petterson can make the feelings so clear and the numbness so noticeable ... Do not miss I refuse. A brilliant novel that grabs you and overwhelms you with scanty means and allusive power”

“Per Petterson showcases feelings instead of telling about them. And writes wonderfully about childhood and friendship ... The author of Out Stealing Horses knows the art of making the characters’ feelings tangible. One has tearful eyes and fuzzy voice after reading. A powerful novel that confirms this Norwegian’s unique talent. Undoubtedly one of the major Nordic authors of our time”

“Brings forth a thousand memories, a thousand secrets, a thousand curiosities ... I refuse is all about the concrete life, what one gets out of it and what is denied us”

“A sensitive and perceptive novel that examines human fragile hearts ... a sensational precise language shines through this novel”

“A disturbing polyphonic novel, seemingly randomly constructed ... Beyond narrative beauty and the elegant style, it is the characters’ humanity, summarized in some poignant passages, which amazes and fascinates us”

“Wonderful novel about the friendship between two men ... a polyphonic novel written with a rare precision”

“The story seems ruled by the power of a writing that alternates between the realism of the geographical place, the volatility of emotions and the mystery of silence and loss”

“A gripping novel where the emotional lows, rage and will to survive is written with incredible precision”

“The Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano claims to have written a version of the same novel throughout his career; in a sense so has Petterson, but his anguished precision is such that no one should complain” 
 Daily Telegraph, UK

“An extraordinarily humane work…I Refuse will lodge in the heart and remain there”
Irish Times, UK

“A poignant, melancholic novel about the bonds forged and broken between friends and family members”
Independent, UK 

“Already a bestseller in Petterson’s native Norway, where he has won numerous literary awards. Now, translated into English for the first time, its arrival here is sure to be welcomed”
Daily Mail, UK 

"A strenuous examination of how grief reverberates down the decades"
Metro, UK

"Per Petterson juxtaposes the defiant will to survive against quiet resignation in his new masterful novel ...Will he accomplish it again, those truthful sentences? Will he again capture the intensity of the moment and the incredible presence which characterises his seven earlier works of fiction? Yes, by all means...this is pure Petterson, for the uncompromised delight of the reader."
May Schack, Politiken, Denmark

"...illuminated by a clear and insightful knowledge of what it means to be human...Petterson is really a masterful depictor of contemporary life. His prose is precise, simple, and yet so magically different that it constantly offers a new insight.....Lucky is the reader who has yet to read Petterson." 
Nordjyske, Denmark

"I Refuse is, despite its apparent realism, a nearly magical literary experience. Which is largely due to Petterson’s sublime command of language. It simply does not get much better than this."
 Ekstra Bladet, Denmark

"Petterson confirms his reputation as Scandinavia's leading realist writer...the heartrending contrast between power and powerlessness, silence and speech is anchored in every word on these pages. Likewise in the soul of the reader." 
Kristeligt Dagblad, Denmark

"Per Petterson examines in a taciturn manner the way in which human fates are formed. It is overwhelming ... Per Petterson is incomparible when it comes to delineating the greatest issues in the context of the most modest fates. There, viewed in all ordinariness and stark reality, do they achieve a form which makes one's whole existence tremble." 
Jyllands-posten, Denmark

"Per Petterson, Norwegian literature's clearest shining star, has written a masterful novel about friendship, violence and destruction...the composition in Per Petterson's technical showpiece of a novel makes for seductive storytelling."
Information, Denmark

"Every sentence in Petterson's writing is carved in stone as if it had never been written before, and that is the criterion for brilliance in a time when language is quickly worn out … I Refuse is a significant contemporary novel"
Weekendavisen, Denmark

"A great novel in a powerful body of work … touching and supremely understated"
 Berlingske Tidende, Denmark

"Brilliant … belongs to the premier league of Scandinavian writers … Per Petterson writes in a subdued and concise manner about life's most desperate situations. To the great satisfaction of the reader"
 Politiken, Denmark

“A masterpiece … at least as good as Out Stealing Horses;  a remarkably good novel; a masterful novel: Intimate, shocking, demanding, raw ... the last meeting between father and son must be the most moving of its kind in Norwegian literature ever."

"A beautiful and sad and compassionate and relentless text ... it confirms Per Petterson's status as one of Norway's very, very best novelists today. Within the reliable and grand beauty of the language, lies a promise of reconciliation that makes the confusion and sorrow in the protagonist's life all the more difficult for the reader to bear."

"Per Petterson has done it again: His new novel has a dark glow, but radiates light ... Reading Per Petterson is a joy ... Petterson shows us, again, what a magnificent storyteller he is."

“Superb, intense and powerful…. If Out Stealing Horses was a masterpiece, well then Per Petterson supasses himself with this book …. The novel is as life itself; wonderful, painful and open.”

“with an irresistible power to move the reader”
Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, P2

“Petterson opens up wounds and shows us how we are condemned to make choices, all the time. He does this in an unpretentious, empathetic, but also powerful way … The form is even more distinct and finely crafted. But what I think is most characteristic is his ability to choose key scenes, describe incidents that prevail, both as painful wounds and as crossroads in a person’s life”
Dag og tid

“Pitch dark, poetic, raw and beautiful. Petterson is a must read … Petterson portrays people we will never manage to shake off [in this] understated little masterpiece”

“an unusually well-composed and artfully crafted work … The narrative structure is superb … Petterson’s greatest strength as a writer, now as before, is his ability to express and give literary shape to the experiences of ordinary people.”
Bergens Tidende

“Petterson’s ambitious portrait of people who turn away from violence, from life, from death, is as powerful as anything I’ve read for a long time … heartbreaking … The novel evokes a powerful urge to know more about the people, to read again … maybe it’s that simple, that Petterson’s supreme gift, for which he is recognized world wide, consists of writing about those things that are the most simple, those things that are the most difficult to describe well, the vulnerable, close relationship between father, mother and child, between sister and brother, between friends?”

“The magic of the story lies in the way it appears more authentic than reality … In a masterful way, Petterson succeeds in keeping his nerve and his focus even when narrators, places and times suddenly and surprisingly change. It’s these seamless transitions that make the fates we read about rise from the paper, of course in combination with a rock solid and elegant prose”

First published: 2012, Forlaget Oktober

Rights sold to

Language Foreign publisher
Albanian Shkupi
American English Graywolf Press
Azeri Qanun
British English Harvill Secker
Bulgarian Delakort
Catalan Club Editor
Chinese (simplified) Shanghai Translation Publishing House
Danish Batzer
Dutch De Geus
Faeroese Nylendi
Finnish Otava
French Gallimard
German Carl Hanser
Hebrew Keter
Hungarian Scolar
Korean Hangilsa
Macedonian Ili-Ili
Polish W.A.B.
Romanian Univers
Serbian Geopoetika
Slovakian Slovart
Turkish Metis

Printer friendly versionPrinter friendly version