Ashes in My Mouth, Sand in My Shoes

Petterson, Per: Aske i munnen, sand i skoa

In Petterson’s debut from 1987, we meet six-year-old Arvid, who lives at Veitvet in Oslo. He has a father who works in a shoe factory and a Danish mother. The short stories centre around the relationship between Arvid and his father.

Praise for Ashes in My Mouth, Sand in My Shoes:

"Petterson's style - smoothly translated by Don Bartlett - is stripped like a bleached Wallander landscape and leaves you no place to hide from Arvid's all-too-vivid reality. You are gripped by a few simple words."
The Independent on Sunday

"What makes Petterson's storytelling so mesmerising is his measured, gentle restraint. Characters are flawed, but they're never cartoonish. Emotions bubble just below the surface ..."
Scotland on Sunday

”Both novels [Echoland and Ashes in My Mouth, Sand in My Shoes] are small gems, that nuanced and nicely capture a boy’s life ... having yourself experienced the joy, your only wish will be to pass it on to others: A day in the sun with little Arvid.”
Berlingske Tidende, Denmark

”this father-son novel brings us the first meeting with one of Nordic literature’s most lovable characters, Arvid Janson. A mixture of Alfons Åberg, Ingemar from My Life as a Dog and in part Oskar from The Tin Drum ... New readers should begin nowhere but here.”
Euroman, Denmark

“If you loved Out Stealing Horses, you won’t be disappointed by his razor-sharp debut, which tells the story of Arvid’s childhood … The language is simple, beautiful and cleansed of literary affectation. There is not a single superfluous word.”
Ekstrabladet, Denmark

There is both humour and tenderness in Per Petterson’s debut novel from 1987 … Petterson masters the art of writing simply of big subjects. As a reader, you have to read slowly and attentively to register everything, or read the book twice, which you gladly will.”
Kristeligt Dagblad, Denmark

“Effortlessly, simply and in “almost exclusively main clauses” he weaves his delicate cords … The lucky ones, those still unfamiliar with his writing, can benefit from starting here – at the beginning.”
Politiken, Denmark

“ASHES IN MY MOUTH, SAND IN MY SHOES and ECHOLAND are books that avoid all unnecessary ornaments. As in Hemingway’s writing, the principle is to show in order to tell. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a powerful current of unspoken feelings and stories below the surface, only that these to a large extent must be spotted between the lines … These two books show that Petterson is much more than his successful novel OUT STEALING HORSES. From the very beginning the author was writing with spark and passion.”
Sentura, Denmark

“The stories give fine, sweet, shuddering and sharp analyses of the two, in reality irreconcilable, but mutually dependant worlds that the child life and adult life constitute.”
Information, Denmark

“Wow, Per Petterson has really written some good stories. I think it is easier to write about lions than beetles. I think it is easier to describe war than peace. But here the writer has managed to portray the everyday life of a boy growing up, small rifts from the age where a shiny day in June can seem like a dramatic film.”

“These short stories are so good that one can only hope more are on the way... This is well thought through and well written. What more can one demand?”

“This is a book that warms my heart.”

“How wonderful it is to open a book written by a debut author and find a mature, authoritative writer with warmth, joy of storytelling and a firm formal grasp on his subject.”
Stavanger  Aftenblad

“With a never-faltering language, vigilant sense of the human mind, and quite a bit of understanding humour. A wreath of short stories, adorned with fresh and well deserved laurels.”

First published: 1987, Forlaget Oktober
Per Petterson: Biography and bibliography

Rights sold to

Language Foreign publisher
American English Graywolf
British English Harvill Secker
Danish Batzer & Co

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