Men in My Situation

Graywolf Feb. 2022. 304p. ISBN 9781644450758. $26.. F
Introduced as a 12-year old in Petterson’s debut novel, Echoland, which is being published concurrently with this title and appearing in the United States for the first time, Arvid Jansen is now 38 years old and a successful writer attempting to navigate life in the midst of several crises. A divorced father of three, he tries to be part of his daughters’ lives but often falls short. His ex-wife, who he had known since he was 19, left him for “colorful” people unlike himself. More shockingly, Arvid’s parents and brothers died in a fire on a ship just a year earlier. In coming to terms with these events, Arvid drinks too much and indulges in one-night stands, finding that he can fall asleep only in his car, his beloved champagne-colored Mazda. Much of his day is spent taking buses, trains, and taxis around Oslo, visiting places that resonate with him, including the neighborhood where he grew up and the shoe factory where his father worked. Slowly, Arvid begins to realize that he is being tested by the women in his life and must meet their expectations.
VERDICT Petterson has written a beautifully nuanced, deeply felt, and powerful story of survival.
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