How would you describe Arvid's personality? How would you
describe the style in which the novel is written? Do you find the
style reflects the character, or not?
What is the source of the title, and why does it matter?
Why does Arvid never feel fully a part of his own family?
What roles do politics play in I Curse the River of
Time? How do political and personal projects affect each
other in the book?
Why is Arvid unable to speak at his mother's fiftieth birthday
party? What does the scene add to the book, or to your sense of his
Discuss the differences between the various journeys within the
Arvid is a contemplative person, but what kind of things does he
do in the novel, and what do they tell us about him?
How does alcohol matter in the book? Why?
What role do the characters apart from Arvid play in the book?
How do they change him?
What kind of person is Arvid's mother, and how would you
characterize their relationship? How does it change over the course
of the book?
How do the characters in I Curse the River of
Time deal with problems?
What is your favourite part of the novel, and why?
What is the significance of other novels in the book? Why are
Arvid's mother's reading habits described at such length? How do
they affect Arvid's?
In what ways is this a uniquely Norwegian book, if at all?
What role does Hansen play in the novel?
There are many little stories, often memories, within the novel:
Arvid taking a dog to be put down; the scene at the holiday cabin
with the young woman who would become his wife; Arvid chopping down
the pine tree. Which strikes you as the most significant or
affecting, and why?
How does the structure of the book contribute to its exploration
of Arvid's past and present experience?
What is the importance of Arvid's father in I Curse the
River of Time?
What does I Curse the River of Time
leave you thinking about families?
Which other author or authors does Per Petterson's work make you
think of? Why?
Have you recommended I Curse the River of Time
to your friends? Why, or why not?