I Refuse: A Novel

I Refuse: A Novel - Per Petterson, Don Bartlett This is the fifth novel of Petterson's that I've read, and it maintains the very high standard of his oeuvre, from my perspective. "I Refuse" deals with growing up, friendship and its loss, family breakdown, social change and the emptiness of materialism, among other matters. It's familiar territory for Petterson, perhaps, but he approaches it differently in this novel. Through multiple narratives and time shifts, he shines new light on his material and delivers fresh insights that caused this reader to reflect upon his own life.

You don't read Petterson for the laughs, though there is a dark humour at work here. His purpose isn't to provide the reader with distraction, but I found the fragmented narrative compelling. It's a starkly realist story of life's hardships and disappointments. There are no neat endings here. Parts are oblique and defy interpretation - much like life. The storytelling, characterisation and prose - at least, in Don Bartlett's translation - are all executed beautifully. Highly recommended for those who enjoy writing that reflects the formlessness of lived experience, its resistance to meaning.