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The Year of the Hare

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  9,971 ratings  ·  1,095 reviews
A journalist and a photographer set out on an assignment on lovely sunny evening. As they drive through the country they hit a young hare. Vatanen, the journalist, leaves the car and goes in search of the injured creature. The grateful animal adopts Vatanen and together the two scamper through farcical adventures and political scandal.
Paperback, 135 pages
Published November 1st 2006 by Peter Owen Publishers (first published 1975)
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Average rating 3.63  · 
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 ·  9,971 ratings  ·  1,095 reviews

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Luca Ambrosino
ENGLISH (The Year of the Hare) / ITALIANO

Vatanen, a Finnish journalist, is in conflict with his life. The dissatisfaction comes out one day after hitting a hare. After rescue the wild animal, inexplicably Vatanen running through the woods together with his new friend. He starts down a path of inner purification across the Finland. He plays the part of a veterinary, a fugitive, a fisherman, a fireman, a cowhand, a wrecker, a bear hunter, a drunkard. He learns to make do with what he has, he puts

J.L.   Sutton
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed Arto Paasilinna's The Year of the Hare. It seemed part fable, part drunken frenzy and part Walden Pond; this crazy combination resonated with me. Our protagonist walks out on his life and wanders rural Finland with a hare (which he has rescued) as his companion. His acceptance and adaptability to his shifting circumstances and his bond to his new traveling companion transform his life in unpredictable ways. It's a short read, but it both made me smile and got me thinking.
Jim Fonseca
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fun romp: the “comic misadventures” of a young Finnish male journalist who hits a hare and injures it with his car. He chases the hare into the forest and begins an off-the-grid adventure.

He decides to quit his job, divorce his wife of his loveless marriage and spend a year wandering the wilds and small rural towns of Finland with the hare as companion.


His craziness is infectious; his care for the hare becomes a catalyst to bring others out of their dull routines. So a game warden becomes an a
Jun 25, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book made me reflect on my sense of humour (as far as it exists) and my pre-conceived ideas (not to be taken seriously) on my Scandinavian heritage. After all, most of the time, we laugh at the stereotypical patterns we recognise in ourselves and our environment?

Paasilinna is advertised as one of the funniest Scandinavian authors - at least in Sweden, where sense of humour in general unfortunately fell victim to a budget cut in the 1970s. It has never been reintroduced since then, so maybe
Dec 23, 2017 rated it did not like it
Do not even bother, amigos. Even if you fancy rabbits. This is one of the most horrible novels I have ever read.

Its pretty much insipid sketches of Finnish rural life. Rudimentary to a most disagreeable/laughable degree!

This strange, dull and dimwitted collection of feeble fables may possibly be analogies or legends of Finnish culture. In which case, yikes. Finland, do not let this represent your national character. It paints you all as ski bunnies with neurons firing lazily in some stagnant sau
[Shai] Bibliophage
I gave this 5 stars because I enjoyed reading Vatanen's adventures with his companion hare. I was even imagining how it feels like to be Vatanen who abandoned his wife, career, and life in the city just to explore the rurals. This book made me realize that for once, I want to break free from all the responsibilities and obligations in the city. I wonder how many of those who read this have envisioned themselves on Vatanen's shoes and envied him for having the guts to get away.
K.D. Absolutely
Apr 24, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2008-2010)
Has a time ever come into your life when you thought of just walking away and leave everything behind?

It had never crossed my mind until when I was reading this book. I think it could not totally be a bad idea.

No, I am neither thinking about killing myself nor leaving my wife and my daughter. I just cannot live without them. This is about that spur-of-the-moment decision that you had enough and you want to pursue another life. You pick you bag, check your wallet and just go the opposite direct
Aug 09, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, finland, ebooks
A charming 70s fable about a man and his hare who leave the modern world behind them, hit the open road, and rethink what life is all about. It's basically Zen and the Art of Lagomorph Maintenance.

The story is told in a gently ironic, detached voice that's pitched somewhere between Lewis Carroll and the Voltaire of Candide, with Vatanen, our ingénu protagonist, blundering amiably from one episode to the next, hare in tow. This being Finland, it involves snow, reindeer herdsmen, pagan sacrifice,
Jim Coughenour
Feb 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Over Christmas I met a Swedish woman at a dinner party – we got talking about Scandinavian literature, a recently acquired passion of mine. She suggested Paasilinna's The Year of the Hare – which is apparently a classic in Finland, where it was first published in 1975.

What a marvelous book! It perfectly captures the spirit of the 70s, and the Finnish setting gives it a kind of magic. It starts off in with an accident – in fact, the whole book is nothing but a series of accidents, but not the clo
Quite boring really (apart from the poor hare) It is set in Finland. The main character...Vatenen, appears to be short on genuine feeling (apart from the poor hare)The book is divided into chapters, each one focused on a particular experience. There is a fair bit of brutality and cruelty. I struggled to finish it but thankfully it was quite short. It reads like a journalist has written it. Not for me at all.
Dana Burgess
Jun 03, 2011 rated it did not like it
'The Year of the Hare' is a Finnish book that has been translated into English. In it, Vatanen picks up an injured hare and walks away from his life to just hang out for a year. Interesting premise but I think it loses something in the translation.

The most endearing character in the book is, without doubt, the hare who heals from his injuries and becomes unfailingly loyal to Vatanen. The book would have benefited from being told from the hare's perspective. As it is, Vatanen comes off as boring
An impulse buy from a secondhand bookshop in London, based on the cover and description; I read a third of it on the train home. It was originally published in Finnish in 1975. Vatanen, a journalist, is out on assignment with his photographer colleague: “two dissatisfied, cynical men, approaching middle age. The hopes of their youth had not been realized, far from it. They were husbands, deceiving and deceived; stomach ulcers were on the way for both of them; and many other worries filled their ...more
Oct 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This was an unusual read and I found the first half stronger than the second. During the first half of the book I felt myself leaning in with curiosity and eagerness to know the fate of man and hare. In contrast, during the second half, I found myself leaning out at times. Also, when our protagonist wakes after a visit to the vet I had imagined a very different scenario! I wonder if my mind wandered at that point and I missed something! Overall, it was a good diversion from current events and I ...more
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio-book, fiction
Kaarlo Vatanen is unhappy with his life. Vatanen, a journalist, is traveling to a meeting in a colleague’s automobile. They accidently hit a hare and Vatanen get out to find the injured animal. He finds it but his colleague has gone on without him. Vatanen decides not to return to his life. He sells his possessions and goes to live in the Finnish countryside with the hare.

This is an escape-from-civilization, back-to-nature type story. Vatanen takes odd jobs in secluded places and fixes up a log-
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A couple of years ago I came upon a Norwegian bestseller just translated into English called Doppler by Erlend Loe. I loved that book and belly-laughed through much of it. A GR friend pointed out this earlier book published in Finland in 1975 and thought the themes were similar. They are, and Loe undoubtedly knew of Paasilinna and copied the idea but Loe also made it more outrageous.

A man, tired of his job and his wife and his life in general decides to leave everything behind and not return ho
Jun 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommended to Caterina by: suvi
Shelves: ebooks, finland
My first Finnish novel was quite enjoyable, I liked the way the author describes the passing from the city life to the wilderness and the main character's difficulty to re-adjust to the "normal" life. Also, beautiful scenes of country life, a way of life already in extinction even in Finland of the '70s. The upcoming industrialization, the growth of the cities, even the final (symbolic to me) pursue of the bear across the borders are all well-drawn elements of the plot. A good and well-written n ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
A quick read about a journalist who rescues a hare and spends a year wandering into whatever life has for him. I think it is supposed to be funny, except for me I don't think the humor really translates. I did like all the Finnish names and some of the characters, and it gave some insight into a government I don't know anything about.

"Even in an agreeable village, one can't hang around doing nothing forever."

"Loving animals can be a heavy load."

Mar 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed
When I saw that this little book was a bestseller in the author’s Finnish homeland, that it had been translated into umpteen languages, and that it had even been selected for the UNESCO Collection of Works I thought that I might just be on to a winner.

It all starts so simply. It is late in the day and a journalist and his photographer are driving home across country, They pull up when they hit and injure a young hare. Vatanen, the journalist pursues the hare into the forest. And he doesn’t come
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A lovely tale. Really reminded me Paasilinna`s other work The Howling Miller which I really liked (and was published several years after this novel). It didn't felt like he was using the same formula, more like he has a unique style. Will probably try more of his work. ...more
Sep 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I'd prefer to give this 4.5 stars as it seems to be let down a bit by the translation, with some odd and clumsy word choices. Nevertheless, the story still flows.
It was a little different from expectations, with more events and fewer descriptions of peaceful times spent in nature. Not many books could benefit from being longer or from more description, but this is probably one. Whilst Vatanen drops out of consumerist society, there is very little hippie or political style writing here: he has a
Mar 19, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book
Translated from the work of the Finnish author, I picked up this book as a short book intermission that looked fun. The basic idea is a reporter in Finland is in a car that hits a young hare, he gets out to help the hare and decides to leave his life behind and wander the countryside with his rabbity friend.

It was fun sometimes, in the way that any novel about someone leaving behind life and successfully vagabonding around with no responsibilities or cares will be fun. But it wasn't as comical o
Dec 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a pretty good read about a journalist who saves a hare after hitting it with his car and travels through Finland with it. It was a great animal story. Definitely check it out.
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Now I will be the first to admit that I struggle to engage with ironic observation and humorous stories because I think I have to be on the same "wavelength" as the author to really connect with both the story and the characters.

So to say that I started this book with some trepidation is a bit of an understatement especially since it was a english translation (I have had some bad experiences of rather stylistic translations in the past to say the least). However I can now report that although f
Jul 28, 2012 rated it did not like it
Oh dear. I had high hopes for this so called quirky and amusing Finnish classic. I have to say I felt let down. The blurb on the back of my copy, calls the translation " clear and straightforward". I'd call the writing style overly simplistic. It reads like it was written by a 9 year old boy with a great imagination, but no idea how the adult world functions. There is no characterisation whatsoever. I've no idea what Vatanen looks like, how old he is or what he feels at any point in the story, o ...more
Fawaz Abdul rahman
I liked the general idea of the novel, traveling around the country, taking leave from all the noise and chaos of the city, meeting new people and having different experiences, however, I couldn't find anything so interesting in the journey, it had some turning points but nothing ended in an interesting way, even the end was pointless for me. I can't even think of any good dialogs or description.
The novel is really short that is a plus, as well it is in a country I never have read before anythi
Dawn Michelle
I am not really sure how to review this book, as I am not totally sure how I FEEL about this book. It was weird. Totally and completely weird. But it was also intriguing and interesting and then it is totally weird again. Perhaps it is in the translation [my "wasband" is of Eastern European descent and his parents [who fled Estonia during WW2] would tell stories in Estonian and then tell me that a lot was lost in translation and that it wouldn't mean the same to me as it did to them; rude I know ...more
Apr 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Arto Paasilinna was working as a journalist, a job he found was growing "more superficial and meaningless" by the day and he was looking for a change. So, what did he do? He quit his job to write a novel. That novel, The Year of the Hare, became an overnight hit and has since been translated into twenty-five languages and has been made into a film, twice, a Finnish version in 1977 and an inferior 2006 French version.

The premise is simple enough: the book’s protagonist is travelling in a car that
Nov 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What can I say? Apart from I LOVE THIS BOOK!

It reminded me a bit about Seven Brothers by Aleksis Kivi, but mostly in the sense that the main character left his "empty" life to lead a simple, yet more meaningful life in the wild with a hare and thereby travelling all over Finland, going through a lifetime of adventures in just one year. And it does all that without ever sounding too pretentious or philosophizing too much about the meaning of his actions. To quote Vatanen: "That's life".

At the sam
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
Again, it needs that 1/2 star - because it's about a 2.5 star read. I'm glad I "listened" to this one instead of reading it, because I'm certain I would never have finished it if I was reading in book format. It's a story of a man that is driving with a co-worker and they hit a hare. He goes off in to the woods to see if the hare is still living and has an epiphany. He leaves his wife, quits his job, sells his possessions and wanders around for one year with the hare as his companion. It's a qui ...more
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Arto Tapio Paasilinna was a Finnish writer, being a former journalist turned comic novelist. One of Finland's most successful novelists, he won a broad readership outside of Finland in a way few other Finnish authors have before. Translated into 27 languages, over seven million copies of his books have been sold worldwide, and he has been claimed as "instrumental in generating the current level of ...more

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