June 2000

Paasilinna's novel gains popularity among British readers

Arto Paasilinna's novel The Year of the Hare has been a best-seller in Finland and France, and has now also proved to be popular among British readers. The book is now in its third paperback reprint in English. Daniel McCabe of Peter Owen Publishers says that "the UK subscription for this new, improved edition is a record, and a second Paasilinna book is under consideration".

Described by the publisher as "a picaresque novel with an ecological theme", the book has become a cult in France. It has been translated into Hungarian, Greek, Italian, Dutch, Swedish, German and Italian. The English translation is by Herbert Lomas, a British poet and well-known translator of Finnish poetry.

When the book was first published in English, David Hughes wrote in Mail of Sunday that "Finnish wit is as sharp as the Arctic weather". Writing in The European, Paul Binding had this to say: "Rarely do writers come upon a novel they believe to be a masterpiece, which they feel will become part of their imaginative lives. For me, The Year of the Hare is such a work."

The story is about a forty-something journalist, jaded by work and home life. With his photographer colleague he sets out on an assignment one lovely summer evening. As they drive through the country, they hit a young hare. Vatanen, the journalist, leaves the car and goes in search of the injured creature. The grateful creature adopts Vatanen, and together the two scamper through farcical adventures and political scandal.

Arto Paasilinna is one of the most successful contemporary Finnish writers. He was born in 1942 in the Lapland village of Kittilä, 90 miles north of the Arctic Circle. He now lives in Helsinki.

Peter Owen Publishers: 73 Kenway Road, London SW5 0RE, email: admin@peterowen.u-net.com

See also:

Attack against Kant inspired Moomintroll character

9 August 1999

Skating on the Sea: Poetry from Finland by Essi Kiviranta

January 1998

The 'disciplinisation' of Finnish historiography by Tuomas M.S. Lehtonen

October 1997

The taboo of decadence in Finnish literature by Pirjo Lyytikäinen

October 1997

How one novel resolved a national trauma by Henrik Stenius

October 1997


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