Siria's Reviews > The Year of the Hare

The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna
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Mar 20, 12

bookshelves: 20th-century, finnish-fiction
Read from March 13 to 20, 2012

The standout moments of The Year of the Hare come when Paasilinna dwells on the absurd, the wry, the cynical, showing how small upsets in routine can upset even the most stolid and respectable-seeming person. Yet despite those moments, and despite the brisk pace of the prose, this slim novel didn't thrill me. Telling the tale of a middle-aged Finnish man who becomes fed up with his life after a chance encounter with a wild hare, throws in his job as a journalist in Helsinki and heads off into the forest to earn a living through honest labour, Paasilinna's work is sort of an archetypal white male hetero fantasy. There are some dodgy gender politics afoot (the main character, Vatanen, attracts beautiful young women for no discernible reason) and some hilariously dated geopolitics (it was written in the mid 70s, and there's a scene towards the end set in the Soviet Union that was clearly conceived through very rose-tinted spectacles). The end redeems the book somewhat—Vatanen saves the hare but destroys many other things, intentionally and otherwise—but I don't think this is a novel to which I will be returning.
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