The author is well-known in Europe and this 1975 book has been translated into thirty languages; odd that it took 35 years to get into English. From the review, I was expecting an Alice in Wonderland allegory. But Year of the Hare requires no suspension of disbelief.
Vatanen is a journalist is in a car with a colleague, heading home to Helsinki from an assignment. The driver, blinded by the setting sun, hits a hare and Vatanen demands that he stop the car and find the animal. He does find it, makes a splint for its broken leg, and never goes back to his friend’s car. Instead he realizes his life as a journalist and husband is not worth continuing, and that he and the hare can find a new life in the Finnish countryside. What follows are a series of adventures – as a forest-fire fighter, handyman, logger, and other odd jobs – that take him through a year on his own. The crowning event is the pursuit of a large bear across the border into Russia, with the hare still by his side. I found Vatanen’s new life inspiring: away from the busy demands of urban normalcy, he finds satisfaction in physical labor and simple self-reliance. And his sense of humour helps too.