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 character?
Discuss the differences between the various journeys within the novel.
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?