Brotherly Love

Per Petterson's new novel sets a sister's devotion against the backdrop of war

Early in to Siberia, a new novel by Per Petterson (Graywolf Press; 245 pages), the narrator and her older brother cut their hands and mix their blood. It's a familiar childhood ritual, sweetened by naive redundancy: How much closer than siblings can you be? The bond between this sister and brother turns out to be a love story--pure, but as painful as the touch of steel to skin.

Petterson, a Norwegian writer, won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award last year for his novel Out Stealing Horses, as well as an even more elusive prize for a work in translation: critical...

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