by Per Petterson
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How boring does your hometown have to be for Siberia to tickle wanderlust? The narrator of To Siberia, a melancholy novel by Per Petterson, is an interesting test case. Growing up in a Danish village in the ’30s, she and her brother retreat from their grandfather’s drunken binges and their father’s palpable aura of failure into atlases and histories, where they see nothing but escape hatches. Jesper, the unnamed narrator’s daring older brother, dreams of Morocco. His sister, however, sets her sights on Siberia: “I wanted open skies . . . where it was easy to breathe and easy to see for long distances.” The two make a blood pact over these plans, not quite realizing they’ve sealed a promise to leave each other, as well.
Published in Norway in 1996, To Siberia is Petterson’s third novel to arrive on these shores,
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