Neel Mukherjee at The Guardian:
Petterson’s great theme is time and how we experience it. This has a direct bearing on how narrative positions and unspools itself in relation to the consciousness of time, and on how a writer represents human interiority perceiving it. In one sense, this is the only true problem – or subject, if you will – of the realist novel. As Tommy asks in middle age: “Is time like an empty sack you can stuff any number of things into, does it never go just from here to there, but instead in circles, round and round, so that every single time the wheel has turned, you are back where you started.” Petterson’s signature technique lies in drawing the most zigzag line imaginable through narrative chronology but the effect is not of confusion, rather of a dense, layered complexity: it is the realist novel form’s mimetic faithfulness to life itself.
His prose, which has the quality of northern light, and the stark clarity of its winters, too, is honed to rise to this level of truth-telling. Stream-of-consciousness is a much-misunderstood term but, cleaving close to the characters’ points of view, Petterson’s long ribbons of sentences, held together by a rich, repeated use of “and”, sometimes euphorically defying grammar but always truthful and pitch-perfect, bring fresh meaning to the term and its possibilities.