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Extended Audio Sample I Curse the River of Time Audiobook, by Per Petterson Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (12 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Per Petterson Narrator: Jefferson Mays Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2007 ISBN: 9781449836528
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Norway, 1989. Communism is unraveling all over Europe. Arvid Jansen, thirty-seven years of age, is trying to bridge the yawning gulf that opened up years earlier between himself and his mother. He is in the throes of a divorce, and she has just been diagnosed with cancer.

Over a few intense autumn days, Arvid struggles to find a new footing in his life. As he attempts to negotiate the present changes around him, he casts his mind back to holidays on the beach with his brothers, and to the early days of his courtship with his soon-to-be ex-wife. Most importantly, he revisits the idealism of his communist youth, when he chose the factory floor over the college education his mother had struggled so hard to provide. Back then, Arvid’s loyalty to his working-class background outweighed his mother’s wish for him to escape it.

As Petterson’s masterful narrative shifts effortlessly through the years, we see Arvid tentatively circling his mother, unable to tell her what she already knows he is thinking. In its piercing portrait of their layered relationship, I Curse the River of Time bears all the hallmarks of Petterson’s compassion for humanity that has won him readers the world over.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Petterson tells another poignant, harrowing and sometimes comic story of a man coming to terms with his dying mother, his failures (job, marriage) and his failures in the eyes of his mother: ‘You squirt!’ But mother and son are bound by feelings and memories for which even the word ‘love’ doesn’t do justice.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “All the inevitability of life, its fragile glue and the doubts that stalk the survivors are summoned and considered in Petterson’s candid, allusive fiction. There is no easy sentiment, only genuine emotional power. His tender new novel is as masterfully evocative as In the Wake and Out Stealing Horses, as gentle as To Siberia, and as exceptional as all three.”

    Irish Times

  • “[A] melancholy novel…Fans—and curious newcomers—will snap it up.” 


  • “[Petterson] deftly alternates between present and past…His prose is elegant and spare.”


  • Selected for the August 2010 Indie Next List
  • One of the 2010 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeb | 5/19/2011

    " I didn't enjoy this one as much as 'Out Stealing Horses' or 'In the Wake,' but I have to say that this book has stayed with me. Certain scenes are still very clear in my mind. So it gets four stars. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tania | 4/28/2011

    " Randomly chosen from my piles and it is book 47 of 2011 - aim 133 books in 2011. Yay for books!! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Joshua | 4/27/2011

    " Bleak, meandering Norwegian fiction. Permit me to summarize: cigarettes, alcohol, strained parental relationships, divorce, cancer. And a less-than-compelling translation to boot. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Llalan | 4/25/2011

    " This author and this translator are unbeatable. I'll read anything they put out. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jeniwren | 3/26/2011

    " I found this very bleak and a disjointed story where at times I was totally lost as to where I was and what was going on.....?? This author is well known for a previous work 'Out Stealing Horses' which I do have on my tbr but might give it a while to delve into this author again. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cjperkins33 | 3/20/2011

    " Fantastic writing as usual. I did not enjoy this nearly as much as Out Stealing Horses or To Siberia. Was darker and a bit depressing....but still worth reading and I'm sure I will continue to read everything Per Petterson writes. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kirsten | 3/14/2011

    " Ho-hum. I can't say that I understand what, if anything, happened, "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Amanda | 3/11/2011

    " Lame. The main character is self-absorbed, and the character never fully develops. Boring. Not inspiring at all. Also, does not lead to self-reflection either. I see no point to this book. Hopefully (for the author's sake) something was lost in translation. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anna | 3/1/2011

    " A sparse & rather beautifully written work where the story didn't intrigue me so much as spark a curiosity about my own Norwegian heritage. Sadly, the book itself left me feeling merely cold. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather | 2/27/2011

    " I like this author. I did not like main character. He is a selfish little boy in a grown mans's body. I love the title of the book, though. Overall it was dissatisfying, but perhaps that was the point. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mark | 2/9/2011

    " Well written, but depressing subject matter. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rachel | 2/7/2011

    " I had a bit of trouble with this one. The switching back and forth in Arvid's life confused me a bit. When the time switched, it usually took me a good 2-3 pages to figure out where we were in time.

    But this might just be me not grasping it that well. Overall, it was an enjoyable read. "

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About the Author
Author Per Petterson

Per Petterson is an internationally renowned Norwegian author. His breakthrough novel, Out Stealing Horses, was named a Best Book of 2007 by the New York Times and has been translated into more than thirty languages. He is also the author of In the Wake, I Curse the River of Time, and To Siberia.

About the Narrator

Jefferson Mays, an Earphones Awards-winning narrator, is also an award-winning theater and film actor. In 2004 he won a Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award, an Obie Award, and a Theatre World Award for his solo Broadway performance in I Am My Own Wife, a Pulitzer Prize–winning play by Doug Wright. He holds a BA from Yale College and an MFA from University of California–San Diego.