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The Year of the Hare

3.61  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,735 Ratings  ·  520 Reviews
A journalist and a photographer set out on an assignment on lovely sunny 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 animal adopts Vatanen and together the two scamper through farcical adventures and political scandal.
Paperback, 135 pages
Published November 1st 2006 by Peter Owen Publishers (first published 1975)
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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonPippi Longstocking by Astrid LindgrenThe Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg LarssonThe Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg LarssonHunger by Knut Hamsun
Best Scandinavian and Nordic Literature
45th out of 880 books — 899 voters
Puhdistus by Sofi OksanenEnnen päivänlaskua ei voi by Johanna SinisaloThe Unknown Soldier by Väinö Linnaسینوهه by Mika WaltariThe Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna
Finnish Fiction
5th out of 391 books — 100 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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K.D. Absolutely
Mar 12, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2008-2010)
Has a time ever come into your life when you thought of just walking away and leave everything behind?

It had never crossed my mind until when I was reading this book. I think it could not totally be a bad idea.

No, I am neither thinking about killing myself nor leaving my wife and my daughter. I just cannot live without them. This is about that spur-of-the-moment decision that you had enough and you want to pursue another life. You pick you bag, check your wallet and just go the opposite direct
Dec 10, 2015 Hadrian rated it really liked it
Humorous story of a man who abandons his life in the city to live in the Finnish wilderness with a wild hare. Manages to talk about how charming and pleasant this way of life is without being overly pedantic. Sweet and earnest, but not cloying.
Aug 19, 2014 Warwick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, ebooks, finland
A charming 70s fable about a man and his hare who leave the modern world behind them, hit the open road, and rethink what life is all about. It's basically Zen and the Art of Lagomorph Maintenance.

The story is told in a gently ironic, detached voice that's pitched somewhere between Lewis Carroll and the Voltaire of Candide, with Vatanen, our ingénu protagonist, blundering amiably from one episode to the next, hare in tow. This being Finland, it involves snow, reindeer herdsmen, pagan sacrifice,
Jim Coughenour
Feb 19, 2008 Jim Coughenour rated it it was amazing
Over Christmas I met a Swedish woman at a dinner party – we got talking about Scandinavian literature, a recently acquired passion of mine. She suggested Paasilinna's The Year of the Hare – which is apparently a classic in Finland, where it was first published in 1975.

What a marvelous book! It perfectly captures the spirit of the 70s, and the Finnish setting gives it a kind of magic. It starts off in with an accident – in fact, the whole book is nothing but a series of accidents, but not the clo
Dana Burgess
Jun 03, 2011 Dana Burgess rated it did not like it
'The Year of the Hare' is a Finnish book that has been translated into English. In it, Vatanen picks up an injured hare and walks away from his life to just hang out for a year. Interesting premise but I think it loses something in the translation.

The most endearing character in the book is, without doubt, the hare who heals from his injuries and becomes unfailingly loyal to Vatanen. The book would have benefited from being told from the hare's perspective. As it is, Vatanen comes off as boring
A couple of years ago I came upon a Norwegian bestseller just translated into English called Doppler by Erlend Loe. I loved that book and belly-laughed through much of it. A GR friend pointed out this earlier book published in Finland in 1975 and thought the themes were similar. They are, and Loe undoubtedly knew of Paasilinna and copied the idea but Loe also made it more outrageous.

A man, tired of his job and his wife and his life in general decides to leave everything behind and not return ho
Mar 30, 2011 Jane rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed
When I saw that this little book was a bestseller in the author’s Finnish homeland, that it had been translated into umpteen languages, and that it had even been selected for the UNESCO Collection of Works I thought that I might just be on to a winner.

It all starts so simply. It is late in the day and a journalist and his photographer are driving home across country, They pull up when they hit and injure a young hare. Vatanen, the journalist pursues the hare into the forest. And he doesn’t come
Dec 30, 2014 Amber rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a pretty good read about a journalist who saves a hare after hitting it with his car and travels through Finland with it. It was a great animal story. Definitely check it out.
Dec 30, 2015 Caterina rated it liked it
Recommended to Caterina by: suvi
Shelves: finland, ebooks
My first Finnish novel was quite enjoyable, I liked the way the author describes the passing from the city life to the wilderness and the main character's difficulty to re-adjust to the "normal" life. Also, there are beautiful scenes of country life, a way of life already in extinction even in Finland of the '70s, that is the time of this book's publication. The upcoming industrialization, the growth of the cities, even the final (symbolic to me) pursue of the bear across the borders are all wel ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
A quick read about a journalist who rescues a hare and spends a year wandering into whatever life has for him. I think it is supposed to be funny, except for me I don't think the humor really translates. I did like all the Finnish names and some of the characters, and it gave some insight into a government I don't know anything about.

"Even in an agreeable village, one can't hang around doing nothing forever."

"Loving animals can be a heavy load."

Marcello S
Questa è la storia di Vatanen, un giornalista che dopo aver investito un cucciolo di lepre decide di cambiare vita e lasciarsi alle spalle Helsinki, la moglie e i colleghi.

Inizia un viaggio verso nord, in mezzo ai boschi, al freddo, alle tempeste di neve e agli orsi.
Vive un sacco di avventure tra residui bellici da recuperare, incendi da spegnere e sbronze colossali che gli fanno dimenticare tutto.

E' un inno alla libertà e all'avventura, al piacere di mollare tutto per ritrovarsi diversi.
In cer
Oct 14, 2011 Noce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Paasilinna e il suo potere balsamico.

Arto mi fa un effetto agrodolce.
Il suo stile è più didascalico dei sottotitoli di un Tg, eppre le storie che racconta sono come le caramelle balsamiche. Le succhi distrattamente, ma alla fine ti pizzica il naso.

L'uomo che abbandona la frenetica vita cittadina, preferendole una salubre esistenza silvestre, non sarebbe di per sé neanche un tema particolarmente originale, se non fosse che la semplicità spartana con cui Paasilinna descrive il ritorno alla natura,
Mar 19, 2011 Danny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book
Translated from the work of the Finnish author, I picked up this book as a short book intermission that looked fun. The basic idea is a reporter in Finland is in a car that hits a young hare, he gets out to help the hare and decides to leave his life behind and wander the countryside with his rabbity friend.

It was fun sometimes, in the way that any novel about someone leaving behind life and successfully vagabonding around with no responsibilities or cares will be fun. But it wasn't as comical o
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
Again, it needs that 1/2 star - because it's about a 2.5 star read. I'm glad I "listened" to this one instead of reading it, because I'm certain I would never have finished it if I was reading in book format. It's a story of a man that is driving with a co-worker and they hit a hare. He goes off in to the woods to see if the hare is still living and has an epiphany. He leaves his wife, quits his job, sells his possessions and wanders around for one year with the hare as his companion. It's a qui ...more
Philippe Malzieu
Feb 10, 2014 Philippe Malzieu rated it it was amazing
He's absolutely incredible. Its stories are completely crazy. It's funny full of alcohol,sex and snow. I am sorry there is only this one in english in the list.
I read all of them. It is fantastic stories. A Pasteur decide to live as couple with a bear; industrialist fuck 10 women in the night (they will be avenged). And all is normal. It is enormous, funny.
It's the physician who talk : all depressed should read pasillina. It was to be refunded by the National Health.
Pierre Menard
Nov 01, 2014 Pierre Menard rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Who is thinking of running away
Che cosa spinge Kaarlo Vatanen, giornalista quarantenne, a raccogliere e curare una piccola lepre, della specie Lepus timidus, investita dall’auto su cui egli viaggia con un fotografo? Appare subito evidente che Vatanen sta attraversando una crisi esistenziale: il suo matrimonio è fallito, il suo lavoro gli procura solo insoddisfazione, non ha praticamente amici degni di questo nome, il cinismo e l’indifferenza guidano la sua vita. Vatanen è un uomo completamente infelice, ma non è del tutto per ...more
Oct 18, 2014 Lammoth rated it really liked it
Финландия. Страната, в която има 188 хиляди езера, за които финландците съжаляват, че не са пълни с водка. Финландия е страната, за която останалите скандинавци се шегуват, че тя е толкова скандинавска, колкото Турция е европейска. Други пък я наричат Швеция 2.

Шведите имат Астрид Линдгрен, финландците отговарят с Туве Янсон (а шведите отбелязват, че тя е от шведското малцинство във Финландия). Шведите имат Ericsson, а финландците - Nokia. Финландия имат велик хокеист - Теему Селане, шведите отг
João Carlos
Sep 18, 2015 João Carlos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: l2013

Illustration by Arthur Giron

Kaarlo Vatanen é um jornalista com cerca de 40 anos, cínico e infeliz, que viaja de carro na companhia de um fotógrafo. Numa estrada arenosa no meio de uma floresta finlandesa uma lebre jovem exercitava-se a pular nas patas traseiras. O fotógrafo condutor, com a mente entorpecida não foi capaz de reagir a tempo atropelando o animal. Vatanen em pânico sai do carro e entra na floresta onde encontra a lebre com a pata traseira partida. O jornalista pegou na lebre aterror
Jun 08, 2014 Marnie rated it really liked it

Have you ever had the urge to tell your boss to " take this job and shove it" ( thank you Johnny Paycheck) or maybe longed to chuck all of your responsibilities and go live in a hut somewhere? Maybe it is because I'm an empty-nester but I often fantasize about grabbing my husband and just leaving. This book is about a guy who chooses to walk away from his life. He spends a year traveling around Finland,with a hare, finding adventures wherever he goes. Some of the stories were funnier than others
Jan 04, 2015 Antonomasia rated it it was amazing
I'd prefer to give this 4.5 stars as it seems to be let down a bit by the translation, with some odd and clumsy word choices. Nevertheless, the story still flows.
It was a little different from expectations, with more events and fewer descriptions of peaceful times spent in nature. Not many books could benefit from being longer or from more description, but this is probably one. Whilst Vatanen drops out of consumerist society, there is very little hippie or political style writing here: he has a
Sep 14, 2014 Anastasia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0-2013
Mah! L'ho trovato senza mordente, a tratti soporifero, o forse sono io che non capisco questa famosa "ironia finlandese", o di Arto Paasilinna nello specifico. So solo che mi sono annoiata abbastanza e che verso la fine non vedevo l'ora di passare ad altre letture. E parlando del lato umoristico: non mi ha fatta né sorridere né tanto meno ridere. Sì, per carità: simpatico forse, leggero, ma niente di rilevante per i miei gusti.
Ho letto in giro che in effetti questo è inferiore rispetto ad altri
Neko McEvil
May 26, 2015 Neko McEvil rated it it was amazing
What can I say? Apart from I LOVE THIS BOOK!

It reminded me a bit about Seven Brothers by Aleksis Kivi, but mostly in the sense that the main character left his "empty" life to lead a simple, yet more meaningful life in the wild with a hare and thereby travelling all over Finland, going through a lifetime of adventures in just one year. And it does all that without ever sounding too pretentious or philosophizing too much about the meaning of his actions. To quote Vatanen: "That's life".

At the sam
Lora Grigorova
Feb 20, 2014 Lora Grigorova rated it really liked it
The Year of the Hare:

Kaarlo Vatanen is a middle-aged Finnish journalist, disappointed with his job and utterly tired of his wife. For quite a while he has acquiesced with a lonesome and purposeless existence, afraid or unable to change a thing. Until one day, when the car he is travelling in hits an innocent hare. Seized by a sudden impulse, Vatanen jumps out of the car to take care of the injured animal. When his companion leaves him in the middle of now
"L'anno della lepre" è una simpatica storia ambientata tra la Finlandia e l'URSS. Vatanen è un giornalista stufo della sua vita ripetitiva, profondamente triste, di quella tristezza muta che non trova le parole per esprimersi: nulla da condividere con il suo collega e compagno di viaggio e nulla da dire ad una moglie tirannica. A volte capita che questa tristezza che coviamo in noi, emerga e avvolga anche il mondo esterno, con una spuma che copre e attutisce il mondo, permettendoci di continuare ...more
May 11, 2011 C. rated it liked it
I bought this book thinking it would be an eye opening experience and an escape into a wild world where Kaarlo Vatanen escapes the modern world with his hare to discover magic and freedom in a way that I hadn't perceived before. I had high hopes and perhaps they were too high. I found that while clever and well written the book's magic was a little flat for me. I am not sure if it's the translation or if the book just prattles along on a luke warm journey through Finland without much oomph. It w ...more
Apr 29, 2013 Jim rated it really liked it
Arto Paasilinna was working as a journalist, a job he found was growing "more superficial and meaningless" by the day and he was looking for a change. So, what did he do? He quit his job to write a novel. That novel, The Year of the Hare, became an overnight hit and has since been translated into twenty-five languages and has been made into a film, twice, a Finnish version in 1977 and an inferior 2006 French version.

The premise is simple enough: the book’s protagonist is travelling in a car that
Aug 09, 2012 Kevin rated it did not like it
Oh dear. I had high hopes for this so called quirky and amusing Finnish classic. I have to say I felt let down. The blurb on the back of my copy, calls the translation " clear and straightforward". I'd call the writing style overly simplistic. It reads like it was written by a 9 year old boy with a great imagination, but no idea how the adult world functions. There is no characterisation whatsoever. I've no idea what Vatanen looks like, how old he is or what he feels at any point in the story, o ...more
Curtis Ackie
Aug 18, 2011 Curtis Ackie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
At times it felt as though I were reading a children's book, and I'm not sure if that was due to the translation. An interesting idea, but this book lacks something.
I found Vatanen, and most of the characters he meets along his journey, to be shallow, not nearly enough character building.
There were things I failed to understand, such as why Vatanen hid whilst the vicar was trying to kill his loyal companion. Also, aside from being the catalyst behind Vatanen running away, the hare seemed a lit
Stephanie Mason
Jun 27, 2011 Stephanie Mason rated it did not like it
I picked this book off the library shelf thinking it might be something profound, like a man's journey toward something...NOT. It really wasn't worth reading (why it's an international bestseller I'll never know) in fact, it's probably not worth the dollar late fee, I just can't stand to not finish books.

It was completely pointless. A Finnish man nearly kills a hare and after rescuing it, decides to leave his wife and life as a journalist. For the next year he wanders aimlessly, has a series of
Jane Brant
Dec 29, 2011 Jane Brant rated it really liked it
Whimsical, ridiculous, funny, a parable, an animal story...I don't know really what you'd label this novel. But one thing for sure, I love the juxtapositions within the story of the characters, values, etc. I laughed and chuckled several times...who would rescue a hare and go through all the situations the main character does. I would recommend this book to people a little off know, the interesting people who don't march to the same drummer everyone else does. Cross over into this l ...more
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  • The Unknown Soldier
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  • Manillaköysi
  • The Christmas Oratorio
  • Rautatie
  • Käsky
  • The Birds
  • Seven Brothers
  • The Maid Silja: The History of the Last Offshoot of an Old Family Tree
  • Ihmisen osa
  • The Viceroys
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  • Mielensäpahoittaja
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  • Puhdistus
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Arto Tapio Paasilinna is a Finnish writer, being a former journalist turned comic novelist. One of Finland's most successful novelists, he has won a broad readership outside of Finland in a way few other Finnish authors have before. Translated into 27 languages, over seven million copies of his books have been sold worldwide, and he has been claimed as "instrumental in generating the current level ...more
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