Ian Young's Reviews > Purge

Purge by Sofi Oksanen
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Jul 26, 11


Purge has been a European best seller. It is a serious book, dealing with some of the personal consequences of the Russian occupation of Estonia after the second world war, and in the modern era the trafficking and abuse of Eastern European prostitutes in the West. The book focuses on the lives of two women, linked by a family relationship, but more importantly by a series of shared secrets and betrayals which are gradually revealed over the course of the novel. As these secrets are gradually opened up, we see the motivation behind terrible things done to and by each of the main protagonists. There is very little cheerful or happy in this story – people are damaged by suffering, and in order to survive endure or do almost anything. The desire to cling to existence is very powerful. The nature of the book makes it difficult to care much about the central characters and for me this was its chief weakness. We observe them, sympathise with them and wonder about them, but do not feel the outrage these events merit. Nonetheless, an interesting book about issues which I have probably not thought about enough.
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