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L'ultimo dei vostiachi

3.33  ·  Rating Details ·  87 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews

An inventive tale of a long-lost language and culture, forgotten but for a single man.

He felt a shiver run down his spine when he heard the lateral fricative with labiovelar overlay ring out loud and clear in the chill air…It set forgotten follicles stirring in the soft part of his brain, disturbing liquids that had lain motionless for centuries, arousing sensations no

Hardcover, 184 pages
Published January 1st 2002 by Bompiani
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Parrish Lantern
Ivan, is the last of the Vostyachs, the last member of a tribe that connects the language of certain tribes of the North Americas and Finnish, they were also very powerful shamans, with the ability to be understood by most animals. Although he hasn’t spoken a word in years, not since as a child he saw his father shot dead at the slave labour camp they were prisoners at. Shoot forward twenty years and Ivan wanders out of the camp after the guards all left when their wages stopped arriving. He lea ...more
The last surviving member of an archaic Siberian tribe is released from a gulag: this sounds nothing like the set-up for a thrillerish farce in the style of David Lodge or Tom Sharpe. It's not quite played for laughs, but the academic vendetta of madly egotistical, and even more madly nationalist Helsinki-based Professor of Finno-Ugric Studies, Jarmo Aurtova, is, for at least the first two thirds of the book, like a plot one of those two could have come up with. (There's also an angry ex-wife, a ...more
Mar 02, 2013 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Diego Marani is an Italian author and Eurocrat who writes novels in his spare time. Following on the heels of New Finnish Grammar (2000) which was shortlisted for the 2012 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the Best Translated Book Award almost as soon as it was translated, The Last of the Vostyachs (first published in Italian in 2009) has been longlisted for the 2013 IFF prize, and no wonder, it is unputdownable. (IMO it was unlucky not to be shortlisted, but then, at the time of writing thi ...more
Mar 21, 2013 Marianne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Last of the Vostyachs is the3rd novel by Italian author, Diego Marani, and the second to be translated into English. When Russian linguist Olga Pavlovna, stranded by a blizzard in a remote Siberian village, stumbles across a wild man speaking a strange language, her boredom is instantly transformed into enthusiasm: Ivan is speaking in a tongue thought long extinct. Could he be the last of the Vostyachs? Olga naively shares her discovery with her Finnish colleague, Professor Jarmo Aurtovo, ce ...more
Sep 23, 2013 Zirk rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps this is a review of me as reader rather than of the book. Maybe all reviews are. But here goes anyway: There are some really appealing aspects to this book, none more so than the Vostyach character. There are the various crimes and the freeing of the animals which are all good story elements.

But then there is all the theorising about language, which takes up a good portion of the book's 166 pages. And that's where the author lost me. I started skipping bits and caring less about the char
Tina Tamman
Dec 13, 2016 Tina Tamman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a novel about communication and about failure to communicate. One of the rare books of fiction I know that is largely about language, but there are also other forms of communication involved, including drumming.
I very much admire the way the author has created absurd, almost farcical scenes to communicate his ideas about language and non-communication. How often we think we know exactly what another person is thinking only to discover we were wrong all the way! This fairly short novels p
Meredith M
Jan 23, 2016 Meredith M rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
This is my second experience of Diego Marani's work as translated by Judith Landry. I confess my initial disappointment that the copy I reserved at the library did not have the cover with the fox on it. Undeterred, I implemented my lesson learned from "New Finnish Grammar" and read enough to follow the story and then put the book aside to let the nuances settle, to savour the enchantment, to try and grasp the profound.

I found this story more enjoyable in contrast to my recollection of some leng
Aug 13, 2013 Greg rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-loans, 2013
Diego Marani continues his engagement with the Finnish language with The Last of the Vostyachs. At the start of the novel, Ivan walks free from a Soviet labor camp and heads into the tundra to live on his own. Ivan hasn't spoken for years, because he is the last living speaker of Vostyach, a proto-language long thought lost to the world. When he comes into a little town to sell some skins he meets a Russian linguist, and she prevails on him to come with her to Helsinki for her to show off at a l ...more
I preferred this book to New Finnish Grammar if for no other reason that it has a far more satisfactory ending.

Definitely one for linguistic nerds - I often got lost in its linguistic jargon - the story follows the last member of the Vostyach tribe, following his emancipation from a Siberian prison camp, whose mere existence threatens an academic's lifelong thesis about the origins of the Finnish language. The academic is determined to eradicate this threat to his professional standing. Chaos an
Robin Stevens
Dec 24, 2013 Robin Stevens rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An utterly surreal book that brings together murder, escaped zoo animals, icy wastes and linguistic semantics, this shouldn't work, but it beautifully does. Marani is a wonderful writer, and he's been wonderfully translated. This is quite insane and extremely dark, it's got a brilliantly love-to-hate villain, and you won't have read anything else like it. Ever.
Apr 16, 2015 Elisabeth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Kort fortalt:
Jeg tror ikke på grunnpremisset som skaper konflikten, jeg liker ikke karakterene, jeg synes mennesynet i boka er motbydelig og den er full av lingvistiske faguttrykk som bare er til pynt og ikke har en litterær funksjon.

Den lange versjonen har jeg skrevet her:
Panu Mäkinen
Apr 28, 2014 Panu Mäkinen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
Viimeinen vostjakki on haparoiva kertomus, joka yhdistelee kielitiedettä ja jännitystä. Talven, lumen ja pakkasen kuvaus ei ole kovin onnistunutta, mutta teosta on tuskin tarkoitettukaan kovin vakavasti otettavaksi.
Alessandro Speciale
Feb 23, 2015 Alessandro Speciale rated it really liked it
"Le cose che da anni non erano più state nominate si risvegliarono intorpidite accorgendosi di esistere"
The Book
Jul 23, 2013 The Book rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: europe, italy
Meh. Not interesting enough, and I dislike books where I don't like any of the characters. Probably a little too close to mundane real life for me.
Adam Pearson
Short. Mythic. Dense in parts. Silly really.
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Diego Marani works as a senior linguist for the European Union in Brussels.
Every week he writes a column for a Swiss newspaper in Europanto, a language he has invented. He also published a collection of short stories in Europanto, in France.
In Italian he has published six novels, the most recent being l'Amico della Donna.
More about Diego Marani...

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“È vero che si può avere l’illusione di sapere tutto di un popolo studiando sui libri la sua civiltà, i re, le battaglie, la religione. Ma finché non ci si appropria del soffio della sua lingua non se ne conosce veramente nulla.” 0 likes
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