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Stalinin lehmät

(Kvartetti #1)

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  3,735 ratings  ·  167 reviews
Stalinin lehmät on dramaturgiaa opiskelevan Sofi Oksasen vahvasti feministinen esikoisromaani, joka saa voimansa Annan sisäisen naiskuvan yhteentörmäyksestä yhteiskunnallisen todellisuuden kanssa. Se purkaa myös heterokeskeisiä stereotypioita syömishäiriöistä ja antaa kriittisen piston menneiden vuosikymmenten poliittiselle skitsofrenialle, jonka oireet näkyvät edelleen.
Paperback, 477 pages
Published July 3rd 2009 by WSOY (first published 2003)
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Average rating 3.63  · 
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 ·  3,735 ratings  ·  167 reviews

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Aug 07, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stalin’s cow is a goat! The Danish title of the debut novel "Stalins Køer", by Finnish writer Sofi Oksanen, is fantastic. It both means “Stalins’ cows”, but also “Stalin's queues” - those famous queues in front of the socialist stores, to which Oksanen makes frequent references. Those queues where did not matter what was sold, because anything was sold, everybody needed it. Otherwise, "Stalin's cow is a goat" is the sentence that actually refers to the essence of the novel: the depersonalization ...more
Jan 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have read this book twice, I liked the Finland parts of the book. I was a child in soviet Estonia. It wasn't miserable, people were having a lot of fun. Oksanen sees it as a Finnish tourist, tourists don't get much about any country. Even Oksanen is better than an average tourist, her description of Estonian life is weird. Oksanen is quite materialistic in this book, talks a lot about things you buy. We had very happy childhoods in Soviet Estonia and I can't remember any adults suffering. ...more
César Lasso
Sep 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nordic-lit
It took me nearly two weeks to read this book, but I liked it. If we could think of a new ‘genre’, we might call the novel ‘bulimarectic literature’, as well as there is romance, travel lit, and gay.

But the novel is much more than that. It is a revolt of the author against the world she sees. It is a search of a personality and a revolutionary reply to the answers other give.

It is a philosophical book, but not just that.

The story sets roots between three countries and three histories. You can fe
About the shelves:

annoying-pov-switched: Mixes third limited and first person present and imperfect.
finnish-original: Self-explanatory.
historical: Several timelines starting from 1940's.
horror: The horrors of eating disorders.
realistic: The horrors of eating disorders. Stalin. Perestroika. Etc.
scandinavian: Finland is a part of Scandinavia if you didn't know.
too-stupid-to-live: Anna. (view spoiler)
Julie G
Jul 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended
A really beautiful book written well - even when translated.

We meet Anna, her mother Katariina and her grandmother. Anna has been struggling with extreme eating disorders since she was about 11, and we follow her through her fights with the disorder, the changes in both Finland and Estonia during the Cold War and the Soviet times, and her struggle with figuring out who she is - Finnish or Estonian? It is very hard for her to handle the stereotyping and prejudice of having a Finnish father and E
Sergiu Pop
I guess this book was ok. To make it a great one, I would take a pair of scissors and cut all of Anna's pages reserved to her medical condition. It was agonizingly repetitive and boring. At one point I was very much tempted to skip them, although I never do that. If the author left only the parts about life in Estonia before and after communism it would be a great book. ...more
Nov 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
History parts very interesting; too much bulimia.
Sep 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every writer, I assume, must more or less work from their own experience. Some of their own life must inevitably seep into their characters. And I know it's childish to equate an author with her book and although I couldn't possibly know but this novel felt painfully autobiographical.

This novel felt almost too intimate, like raw wounds still bleeding, opened up for all of us to see. This was a glimpse into a young woman's unfiltered pain, about her body, her sexuality, her family and country.

I a
Apr 10, 2016 rated it liked it
An enjoyable read all in all, but some of the "oh look at me I am so artsy-fartsy" things managed to annoy me a tad too much. But the depictions of eating disorder did feel to me, as someone with probably healthier-than-average approach to food, as real, and that is worth quite a lot.

The main character was flawed, sure, but that was the whole point, wasn't it? And I found myself relating to her in a few places. Probably not a good thing, that... Actually, DEFINITELY not a good thing, that. Not
Jul 09, 2010 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I hope this gets translated into a language I speak.
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought "Stalin's cows", the debut novel from Oksanen after reading her success novel "Purge". She won the Nordic Council Literature Prize with "Purge" in 2010. Again an exciting novel that also merges several stories, this time three stories, those of a daughter, a mother and a grandmother, and that leads us into different phases of Estonia's history. The grandmother Sofia, a farmer, experienced the German occupation and the annexation by the Soviet Union. The mother Katariina, a building engi ...more
Mar 23, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For some reason, I’ve unintentionally been picking up books that deal with depression and other mental illness recently. These are topics that always touch a nerve with me, and this book was especially raw and unapologetic, for better and for worse. Books like this get harder to read as I tend to transfer the anxiety of the book to my own life more, and am less able to escape my life by delving into the anxieties of fictional characters. Is this what getting older is like?
Ivetka Tonhauserova
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, I enjoyed every one of its 400 pages :-). I wholeheartedly recommend Stalin's cows to everyone who likes thought provoking books, even though I don't think you can fully appreciate it unless you're quite knowledgeable of finnish customs and lifestyle and also of the ex eastern-block's culture and realia. You'll probably like it anyway, but knowing that deep difference takes it to the whole new level. ...more
I guess I only finished because I started it - not a book I would recommend or that inspired me.
I mean, the writing can even be consired good, but I'd say too plain. I got a little bit bored, have to admit, coming to the end - I even skipped some parts that were not present filand. As a south american I find it very hard to relate to the main charater feeling shame to be a Estonian! C'mon! it is europe. Anyways. The places, though.. Really wishing to go to Estonia someday.
This is a very interesting book, particularly with regard to the story of how Estonia changes throughout time. To be honest, I would have wanted to read more about the grandmother and her time and less about the modern day and the eating disorder. I can understand that the disorder matters and plays a role in the story, but I think the point would have been easily made with fewer words.
Apr 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
horrifyingly real depiction of eating disorders.
Nov 28, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
3,5 Stars
Feb 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book does a good job of realistically representing an ED and tells a beautiful story across generations, though the endless switching between POVs and timelines gets a bit confusing.
Tuula Sykkö
Dec 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Astonishingly interesting family history.
Aug 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Really good social commentary but for some reason I found it difficult to get into
Aug 17, 2016 rated it liked it
An interesting premise (at least initially) of Estonian vs Finnish lives during Communist times told through the lense of a second generation little girl brought up to exercise extreme distrust of everyone else around her by her Estonian mother who married an (eventually) drunk, absent and womanising Finnish father. The result is a little girl taught to hide her (shameful) Estonian identity and to distrust everyone around her especially her jealous communist family and friends which leads her to ...more
Jul 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Oksanen is a gifted writer. A debut novel within the confessional genre is not rare, but it is rare that confessional literature is any good. Oksanen manages to find a subtle balance between the revelation of a selfabsorbed bulimic psyche and a highly subjective experience of the equally selfabsorbed soul of life behind the iron curtain.
The sense of self-loathing is more evident in the description of Finland as an alcoholized and soulless society, and in the description of Estonia as a painted w
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is perfect on many ways.
First of all, it touched me on a level no book has touched me before. The way Anna longs and feels homesick of something that's been long gone, her home, just like I do, makes it so easy to identify with the character. It's almost as if she was writing about me. Oksanen has always been able to capture those feelings and evoke emotions that are just bigger and deeper. (best I could say in the lack of better words)
Secondly, I just adore the way this book is writt
Jan 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this book. I liked the quick pace of the stream-of-consciousness and the inner turmoil of the main character, the constant change of perspective and person. And again Oksanen captures the horrifying implications of Soviet rule in Estonia, the lack of identity many second-generation immigratons feel and the grip mental illness can have on someone's life. This book is a book that reflects our time but also the past. It is a hybrid between exciting and easy language and the ...more
Lenka Řízek
Nov 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Unusual merger of two semblantly different stories. On one side life with bulimia or "care of body beauty (as the main character is calling it), on the other side unequal life of Finland and Estonia (Capitalists versus one of the Soviet union republics). Reading that for me as citizen of former The Czechoslovakia is a bit bitter and funny at the same time...for the gives you a great picture of how easily we judge others. ...more
Mar 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am almost starstruck. Sofi Oksanen guides you through illness, war and how to be a human in desperate times with the knowledge of a woman of age fifty, at least.
Oksanen is just 35, and was ten years younger when she wrote this. If you only want read one book this year, I suggest you take Stalins Kyr up for consideration.
Karen Rós
May 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
enjoyable read. the translation (Danish) was very good too, very lively and eloquent.

I'm having a hard time articulating what I liked about this book and why. It's not really the kind of stuff I usually read, but I was curious (and will be reading more of Oksanen's books), and I'm not sure my curiosity was entirely sated. hmm.
Michelle Heegaard
Wauw. Just wauw. This book blew me away with storm. I loved it. I adored it. (Read that in present tense). Wauw. I loved the way it was written, I loved the style it was written in. I was fairly confused now and then as to which of the womens point of view I was actually following, but still... wauw. This book is a keeper and it is definitly going up on my shelves!
Mar 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
I mixed up all the different characters as I'm terrible at remembering names. The parts about the bulimic girl were my favourite, very interesting. I liked Oksanen's unique style of writing, short sentences and lots of repetition. ...more
Tone Belsvik
Aug 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Fairly depressing book without much relief, but still interesting and quirky - and the depiction of bulimia is really fascinating and three-dimensional. So well worth reading, but decidedly not feelgood.
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Sofi Oksanen was born in Finland to a Finnish father and an Estonian mother. In 2010 she won the Nordic Council's Literature Prize for her third novel (originally a play), Puhdistus (Purge). ...more

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