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The Year of the Hare

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An internationally bestselling comic novel in which a man--with the help of a bunny--suddenly realizes what's important in life

"Escapism at its best . . . Just pure fun." --NPR.org

"Which of us has not had that wonderfully seditious idea: to play hooky for a while from life as we know it?" With these words from his foreword, Pico Iyer puts his finger on the exhilaratingly anarchic appeal of The Year of the Hare, a novel in the bestselling tradition of Watership Down, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and Life of Pi.

While out on assignment, a journalist hits a hare with his car. This small incident becomes life-changing: he decides to quit his job, leave his wife, sell his possessions, and spend a year wandering the wilds of Finland--with the bunny as his boon companion.

What ensues is a series of comic misadventures, as everywhere they go--whether chased up a tree by dogs, or to a formal state dinner, or in pursuit of a bear across the Finnish border with Russia--they leave mayhem (and laughter!) in their wake.

194 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1975

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About the author

Arto Paasilinna

77 books658 followers
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 interest in books from Finland".

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5 stars
2,612 (19%)
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5,105 (37%)
3 stars
4,317 (31%)
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291 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,470 reviews
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
659 reviews839 followers
August 11, 2022
“Anyone could live this life, he reflected, provided they had the sense to give up the other way of life.”

Book Review: The Year of the Hare - WSJ

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.
Profile Image for Luca Ambrosino.
83 reviews13.7k followers
September 9, 2021
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 into practice elementary survival rules, he discovers the pleasure of living in the moment. Always with his inseparable hare, the living symbol of its change.

I didn't know Arto Paasilinna, a former journalist and a former forest ranger, but this little humorous and adventure novel, full of unlikely and fun circumstances, surely makes me want to read more about his production. Paasilinna seems to me a new Lewis Carroll, and Vatanen seems the male and adult version of Alice, who followed the white rabbit without delay as well as Vatanen follows the hare to the discovery of a new world.

And you? Will you follow your white rabbit, when it will cut you off?

Vote: 7,5


Vatanen, giornalista finlandese, è in conflitto con la vita che conduce. L'insoddisfazione si palesa un bel giorno dopo aver investito una lepre. Dopo aver soccorso l'animale selvatico, inspiegabilmente fugge con esso nei boschi. Comincia per lui un percorso di "purificazione" interiore attraverso buona parte della Finlandia. Si improvvisa veterinario, fuggiasco, pescatore, pompiere, mandriano, demolitore, cacciatore d'orsi, ubriacone. Impara l'arte di arrangiarsi con quel che ha, mette in pratica regole di sopravvivenza elementare, scopre il piacere di vivere alla giornata. Sempre con l'inseparabile lepre al seguito, simbolo vivente del suo cambiamento.

Non conoscevo Arto Paasilinna, ex giornalista ed ex guardia boschi, e questo piccolo romanzo umoristico di avventura, ricco di situazioni tanto improbabili quanto comiche, sicuramente mi invoglia a leggere altro di sua produzione. A me Paasilinna sembra tanto un novello Lewis Carroll, e Vatanen la versione maschile e adulta di Alice nel paese delle meraviglie, che seguì senza indugi il bianconiglio così come Vatanen segue la lepre alla scoperta di un mondo nuovo.

E voi? Seguirete il vostro bianconiglio, quando vi taglierà la strada?

Voto: 7,5

Profile Image for Jim Fonseca.
1,079 reviews6,892 followers
December 27, 2017
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 artist, spending an hour drawing him a picture of a flower the hare will like to eat; a taxi driver starts collecting plants for the hare. He births a calf, hunts a bear, and works odd jobs.


It’s not all fun and games. He meets crazy nasty people too. A doctor has him arrested as a trespasser for seeking a room for the night. A crazy sleep-deprived man bulldozes a forest-fire fighting camp. There’s a pastor with a gun, a “religious” cult guy who want to sacrifice the hare, and drunken villa guests who trash his cottage and try to hunt the hare.

Is it really possible to play hooky for a while from life as we know it?

Thanks to 7Jane for recommending this book to me.

top photo is of Hossa National Park in Finland from rci.com

bottom photo is of a hare from this website which also explains the differences between a hare and a rabbit!

Profile Image for Lisa.
974 reviews3,328 followers
April 1, 2017
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 the advertisement is correct, but not very telling in the grand scheme of things. Danish people supposedly compete with Norwegians to win the trophy of the happiest people on earth, but that doesn't necessarily mean they have a sense of humour (although they are certainly more into laughing and socialising than us uptight, serious Swedes). Norwegians are funny - in the mind of Swedes who tell extremely humour-free jokes about them, but do they have a sense of humour? Finnish silence prevents them from showing any trace of a possibly hidden sense of humour, so they are a bit of an enigma, except when they present their thoughts in written form, like Paasilinna.

And here comes my dilemma:

I don't find him funny at all. Only silly in a slapstick, childish way. Does that mean Finnish sense of humour is not so great either? Or does it mean I can't appreciate it, being Swedish and a victim of the 1970s budget cut, including abolition of irony and sarcasm in all its forms, and leaving only a very narrow selection of "hahaha, he-slipped-on-a-banana"-type of humour?

Or does it mean that Scandinavia is good at many things, but comedy is for unhappier parts of the world? Our fiction must maybe focus on bloody murder, a form of contrast to the regular boredom we experience alone with hares in forests?

I don't know. It's me, I'm sure. Being too Swedish. Or liking Monty Python too much. And Voltaire. And Diderot.

I will have to add a shelf for the books I don't find amusing despite picking them to have a good laugh: "Should-have-been-funny-but-I-didn't-even-smile"!
Profile Image for Fabian.
940 reviews1,546 followers
November 6, 2019
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 sauna of a collective brain.
Profile Image for Jim Coughenour.
Author 3 books173 followers
August 25, 2022
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 with an accident – in fact, the whole book is nothing but a series of accidents, but not the cloying synchronicity of erstatz "magical realism." This is the real thing, one (almost) ordinary odd event after another quietly accumulates – so that after a few chapters a stunned happiness sneaks over you. There are no huge revelations, no spectacular climax. One day Vatanen (the protagonist) steps off the track of his life and takes a long detour. That's it. It's pure candy.
Profile Image for [S] Bibliophage.
950 reviews854 followers
November 17, 2017
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.
Profile Image for K.D. Absolutely.
1,820 reviews
March 13, 2012
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 direction from where you were originally heading.

Kaarlo Vatanen, a journalist and a photographer, does exactly like that in this book. One night, he and his colleague are driving on a highway on their way home when their car hit a young hare. Vatanen comes down and looks for it. The poor hare is injured and Vatanen decides not to go back to the car and spend that night and the many days and nights thereafter, in the wilderness. He and the hare become partners afterwards traveling together and meeting all sorts of Finnish people along the way.

Arto Paasilinna (born 1942) is one of the most successful writers in Finland. This book, The Year of the Hare is his more popular work having been translated into 18 languages and was selected as UNESCO Collection of Representative works because it represents values of Finnish culture. I bought and read this because this was a 1001 book. There are many similarities between his own life and that of Kaarlo Vanaten’s. He said to have sold his boat too prior to his decision to concentrate and become full-time writer. In a way, this book is a roman a clef. He used to be a journalist and a photographer and then her realized that being a journalist sucked, so he resigned and concentrated on writing this book. Notice that his main protagonist's name, Kaarlo is very similar to his own name, Arto.

The storytelling is cool yet thought-provoking. Cool because the setting is mostly in the wilderness or countryside of picturesque Finland. I have never been there but it was not hard to imagine the place because Paasilinna did a good job of describing the milieu. Aside from the hare, there are also many other featured animals. My favorites are the pesky raven and the bear that is so clever they end up crossing the communist USSR (this is a 1975 book). Vanaten and the hare are apprehended by the USSR police and they get deported back to Finland. I will not tell you the end of the story but it is light through and through like a feather floating on the wind or like a book that you read on a weekend while sitting on an easy chair.

The book is thought-provoking because it is about what one really wants to do in one’s life when you get to its mid-point. Do you continue treading the same path or do you go the other way? It’s about believing in yourself that you can change even in the second half of your life. It’s about giving yourself a chance to do the things that you believe in or do the things that you have not tried. Kaarlo Vatanen teaches us to be brave and risk things that we are holding on for the things that we think are more important or things that we’ve been dreaming about all our lives. For example, when Kaarlo Vanaten starts living with the hare, and is free from daily grind (translation: rat race) he finds that ”his senses are newly sharp, his food has a taste it never had before and he is alive as he has never been in his regular life.” How I wish I could be like him.

Pick this book if you love animals and wilderness. Or if you are in the mid-point of your life and asking if you need to have a career shift or something. Of if you want to read something light, cool and humorous with good insight yet not heavy or overpoweringly dramatic. Or if you are just wondering how a popular Finnish novel reads like in its English translation.

My first time to read a Finnish novel and I am just blown away by it.
Profile Image for Warwick.
812 reviews14.5k followers
August 19, 2014
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, heavy drinking, and an epic bear hunt on skis. (The hunter is on skis, not the bear – although I would certainly read that book.) A cordon of soldiers in snowsuits is described as looking ‘like a chain of Moomins’.

The Finns are a famously quiet people – according to a popular gag, you can tell a Finnish extrovert because when he talks to you he stares at your shoes instead of his own – and Vatenen fits the mould. Shy and undemonstrative, he's also very capable, happy living on his own (with the hare) in the subarctic woods for months on end, felling trees and expanding his cabin.

The work was heavy, but Vatanen liked that: he knew he was getting stronger, and he wasn't weighed down by the thought of having to do this work till the end of his life.

He doesn't know what he wants exactly, he just knows he can't go back to the job, the wife, the mortgage, the deadlines, the routine. He's looking for a way to be as free as his newfound, long-eared friend, and somehow society doesn't seem to want to let him try.

The final couple of pages make the leap away from realism altogether, into something transformative. I can imagine it inspiring many readers to go searching for some leporine adventures of their own.
Profile Image for A..
333 reviews48 followers
October 26, 2021
Tengo una relación de amor etérea, obstinada y, sobre todo, unilateral con Finlandia. Mi amor no correspondido puede afectar mi objetividad. Pero trataré de ser directa: Es de esos libros a los que hay "que pillarle el punto" porque de lo contrario es un bodrio (basta ver la disparidad de opiniones en los comentarios para confirmarlo).

El libro en cuestión trata sobre Kaarlo Vatanen, reconocido periodista, marido engañado, ser humano hastiado. Y de una liebre medio maltrecha. Y del camino que recorren juntos. Vatanen se va trasladando, sumiso, de una pequeña historia a otra, siempre con su liebre a cuestas. No sabe bien qué hace, no sabe bien hacia dónde va. No sabremos casi nada de él. Solo que es un hombre que busca y que quiere dejar atrás su antigua vida. Cada capítulo representará una especie de "mini historia" en el devenir de la vida de estos extraños compañeros de viaje.

Pero es "muy" Finlandia esta novela....entonces hay nieve. Y bosque. Y osos. Y sacrificios de animales a dioses paganos (!). Y hay un humor tan simple y directo que desconcierta. Y unas metáforas que no son fáciles de discernir. Y se cuenta lo que debe ser contado sin grandes alardes ni pretensiones. Se hace lo que hay que hacer.

No me deslumbró la historia pero, honestamente, quería seguir leyendo. Es un como un cuento ingenuo, una fábula hecha rito iniciático, una historia que interroga sobre qué es la verdadera libertad (¿Volver a la naturaleza? ¿Ser completamente "dueños" de nuestro tiempo?) Una historia de amor y humor (finlandés) entre dos seres vivos.
Profile Image for Pavel Nedelcu.
298 reviews126 followers
February 4, 2023

Se vi incuriosisce la Finlandia, la sua cultura e il suo popolo, la geografia e fauna caratteristiche, la vita quotidiana dei finlandesi intorno agli anni 60-80 del Novecento, allora leggere "L'anno della lepre" di Arto Paasilinna potrebbe esservi d'aiuto.

La "fuga" del giornalista Vatanen, accompagnato da una lepre che prima investe e poi cura e addomestica, è una bellissima metafora della libertà, dello spirito umano che si riscopre in mezzo alla natura più selvaggia.

Lungo la strada, Vatanen, che attraversa il paese in lungo e in largo svolgendo vari lavori, incontra una serie di personaggi che ben sintetizzano l'anima della Finlandia in quegli anni: dal poliziotto al prete di paese, dagli allevatori di renne ai taglialegna, dai complottisti ai ricchi sfondati del Sud, ecc. ecc. Insieme alla lepre, che rimarrà accanto a lui fino alla fine, Vatanen trova il coraggio di affrontare qualsiasi situazione con la calma, il distacco e l'ironia che caratterizzano i finlandesi.

Un bellissimo viaggio crono-spaziale, un ritratto della Finlandia al tempo del presidente Kekkonen, dei suoi abitanti e del loro spirito. La scrittura ci fa apprezzare la semplicità e la bellezza della vita mentre ci ricorda che, a volte, la soluzione più semplice è anche la più felice.
Profile Image for Leila.
442 reviews210 followers
March 12, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Laura V. لاورا.
489 reviews9 followers
December 13, 2017
Meravigliosa Scandinavia!

Alzi la mano chi, almeno una volta nella vita, anche solo per mezzo secondo, non abbia mai pensato di mollare tutto, lavoro, famiglia, obblighi e responsabilità, e scappare via di punto in bianco. Del resto, un momento di (sana) follia può capitare a tutti.
A Vatanen, giornalista quarantenne, accade in una fase cruciale della propria esistenza, quando si sente deluso, amareggiato, stanco di tutto ciò che ha, matrimonio incluso, e coglie al balzo l’occasione di “perdersi” nel bosco al seguito di un leprotto ferito. Prendono così avvio le vicende narrate ne “L’anno della lepre”, sullo sfondo di splendidi, incontaminati e spesso innevati paesaggi finlandesi, fino all’estremo nord lappone.
Con la sua scrittura leggera e garbatamente ironica, è stato davvero una bella scoperta Arto Paasilinna che, attraverso la storia del protagonista, ci invita a una fuga dalla deludente e deleteria quotidianità che ci opprime, a riprenderci il nostro tempo e ad assaporare lentamente i ritmi pazienti della natura: una fuga, già, ma anche un viaggio dentro se stessi verso una insperata rinascita!
Molto carina e tenerissima la lepre, alla quale manca soltanto la parola e a cui – ci ho riflettuto a fine lettura – non è stato dato un nome, metafora forse della natura stessa che, seppur indomita, se trattata con rispetto e amore può dare tantissimo all’uomo.
Profile Image for Deniz Balcı.
Author 2 books568 followers
October 27, 2019
‘Tavşan Yılı’ 1942 doğumlu, Fin edebiyatının en önemli isimlerinden biri olarak gösterilen Arto Tapio Paasilinna’nın çok sayıda romanından bir tanesi, 1975 senesinde kaleme alınmış. 1991 senesinde de Simayi Yayınları tarafından Sibel Özbudun çevirisiyle ‘Vatanen’in Tavşanı’ ismiyle yayımlanmış ancak pek ilgi görmemiş. Üzerinden 27 yıl geçtikten sonra Domingo Yayınları kitabı yeniden bulunabilir kılmış, nihayet. Paasilinna’nın 40 kadar romanı var. Hal böyleyken ve Fin edebiyatının enlerinden biri olarak gösterilirken, ‘Tavşan Yılı’ benim okumak için sabırsızlandığım eserlerin başındaydı.

‘Yabana Doğru’, ‘Doppler’ gibi romanlarda da gördüğümüz doğaya yönelme, bu şekilde özgürleşme ve modern insanlığın çıkmazlarından böylelikle arınma hikâyesi ‘Tavşan Yılı’nın da omurgasını oluşturuyor. Hatta yazıldığı sene itibariyle bu tarz kaçış romanlarının atalarından diyebiliriz. Karakterimiz Vatanen gazetecidir, bir iş için fotoğrafçı arkadaşıyla birlikte, ülkenin kuzeyindedir. Arabayla seyahat ederlerken bir tavşana çarparlar. Vatanen tavşanın peşinden ormana dalar ve burada ‘garip’ yolculuk başlar. Bir anda arkadaşından, karısından, işinden, Helsinki’den, insanlardan uzaklaşma kararını yürüten Vatanen; yeni arkadaşı tavşanla kuzeyde yeni bir hayata başlar. Buraya kadar çok romantik bir doğaya yönelme tipi görülüyor olabilir. Fakat romanın numaraları bundan sonra başlıyor. Küçük küçük ‘ulan’ dedirten absürt gelişmeler, minik çimdiklerle ilerletiyor öyküyü. Parodik bir yapısı olduğunu yavaşça kavrıyoruz o noktadan sonra. Bu kavrayış bize kitabın mizahi yönünü anlama imkânı da veriyor. Bir yerden sonra baya eğlenerek, tüm eleştiriye kendi sesimizi de katıp, Vatanen’in destekçisi oluyoruz. Vatanen’in şehir hayatına sırtını çevirdiğini sanmayın. Öyle bir into the wild olmuyor yani.. Onun temel derdi özgür bir konformizm yaratmak bana kalırsa. Şehirde bazı şeyler kısıtlanıyor çünkü. Zira Vatanen öyle de bir insan oluyor gibi. Tavşanı için kuzguna işkence etmekten, ayıyı haklamaktan geri durmuyor mesela. Diğer yandan hikâyenin SSCB’ye doğru ilerlediği tüm ayı sekanslarında efsane bir kahraman arketipine yaslanma var. Çok iyi özdeşlik yaratıyor. Parodik yapıya rağmen bunu başarması ayrı bir lezzet katmış. Kitap böylelikle mizahtan hafif göğüs dolduran bir dramaya geçebiliyor:)

Kitabın iki tane film uyarlaması varmış. 1977’deki ilk uyarlamaya ulaşamam herhalde ama Marc Riviere’nin çektiği 2006 tarihli “Le Lievre de Vatanen” isimli ikinci uyarlamasını merakla izleyeceğim.

İyi okumalar.
Profile Image for Dana Burgess.
242 reviews35 followers
June 3, 2011
'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 and one dimensional. He is easily distracted and seems to view the events around him with an almost clinical detachment. Despite the hare's undying devotion, when the hare is in danger of being killed by an enraged vicar, Vatanen hides and waits to see what will happen. This, along with other events in the story, served to distance me emotionally from Vatanen.

Some of the characters Vatanen meets in his travels had great potential to influence the story and other characters in either a stabilizing or totally insane way. Had either of these happened, the story could have been uproariously funny and/or inspiring and thought provoking. As it was, each character Vatanen met seemed to pass through his life without making any impact on the story or on the growth of the other characters.

Knowing that national identity and experiences change how we view situations, I believe that this book is "more" when read in it's original language by people who share the ethnicity of both the author and characters. Some books translate well and others don't. This one didn't.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
3,551 reviews2,535 followers
January 18, 2018
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 days.” Life changes forever for Vatanen when they hit a young hare with the car. He follows it into the forest to splint its leg and then just keeps walking, sloughing off his job and his wife and moving from adventure to adventure. Whether he’s fighting fires, chopping down trees, or birthing a calf, the hare is always by his side. (Don’t worry, it never talks. It doesn’t even get a name.)

I enjoyed some parts, like the fisherman’s conspiracy theory about the president, and the impetuous pastor. But episodic books like this often leave me cold, and it’s not really the animal-lover’s tale it appears to be: two other creatures come to gruesome ends. In The Novel Cure, this is suggested as an antidote to a midlife crisis because it provides a model of self-reinvention, and in that respect it is indeed successful. As Vatanen thinks, “Anyone could live this life … provided they had the sense to give up the other way of life.”
Profile Image for Noce.
202 reviews269 followers
October 14, 2011
Paasilinna e il suo potere balsamico.

Arto mi fa un effetto agrodolce.
Il suo stile è più didascalico dei sottotitoli di un Tg, eppre le storie che racconta sono come le caramelle balsamiche. Le succhi distrattamente, ma alla fine ti pizzica il naso.

L'uomo che abbandona la frenetica vita cittadina, preferendole una salubre esistenza silvestre, non sarebbe di per sé neanche un tema particolarmente originale, se non fosse che la semplicità spartana con cui Paasilinna descrive il ritorno alla natura, senza gli estremismi ascetici alla “Into the wild” ringiovanisce lo spirito come una Domenica coi boyscout.

“L'anno della lepre” è un libro da pre-vacanza, ma non nel senso della leggerezza. Nel senso della predisposizione a “staccare la spina” con più convinzione. Un depliant dell'Alpitour non potrebbe fare tanto.

Anche la lepre, che pur onnipresente, sembra quasi superflua ai fini della storia, alla fine si materializzerà nella vostra testa e non ne uscirà più.

P.S. Cara Iperborea, come casa editrice sei uno schianto. Mai che sponsorizzi autori scontati o da vetrina. Solo, per favore, cambia formato. Devo sempre leggere i tuoi libri, tenendoli semichiusi per paura di scollare la rilegatura. E sui ripiani della libreria mi costringi a fare le doppie file. E non è carino nei confronti di chi sta dietro.
Profile Image for Djali ❀.
112 reviews96 followers
April 13, 2022
Sono rimasta alquanto delusa da questa lettura, anche se forse è colpa mia che mi aspettavo una cosa totalmente diversa.
Una scrittura troppo asciutta, piatta, che non cattura e non entusiasma (a parer mio).
La trama della lepre che permette al protagonista di riscoprire sé stesso e la natura attraverso il rapporto con l’animale promette bene, ma presto ci si accorge che questo ritorno al proprio io non avviene, o almeno non nel modo in cui mi aspettavo.
Pensavo che avrebbe affrontato temi quali la solitudine, la ricerca del proprio posto nel mondo e il rapporto dell’uomo con la natura e l’ambiente. Non ho percepito niente di tutto ciò.
Un libro non interamente da buttare, ma non quello che cercavo.
Profile Image for Alan Teder.
1,948 reviews88 followers
June 20, 2022
The Year of the Hare in Estonian
Review of the Loomingu Raamatukogu Kuldsari (Gold Series) nr. 13 (January, 2022 #1) reissue of Loomingu Raamatukogu Jänese aasta (1995 nr. 28-30) translated by Sirje Kiin from the Finnish language original Jäniksen vuosi (1975)

I had already read/listened to Finnish writer Arto Paasilinna's The Year of the Hare in an English language translation several years ago, so it was an easy choice to pick up this recently republished Estonian translation. Knowing the story in advance would help my comprehension in reading in my heritage language. Sirje Kiin's translation was very comfortable to read and the story was as entertaining as I remembered it.

As with all of the Loomingu Raamatukogu translations there was a very informative Afterword by the translator which provided an overview of the prolific one-book-a-year writer. The Year of the Hare is his most popular work and it also established his style of the picaresque adventure.
His story of the disillusioned journalist Vatanen adopting an injured hare, abandoning his wife and job and then carrying the animal along on his often crazy plots and adventures throughout Finland remains as entertaining as ever, even with a spot of magic realism towards the end.

Actor Antti Litja and the hare in the 1977 Finnish film adaptation of "The Year of the Hare". Image sourced from Rare FilmM.

Trivia and Links
The Year of the Hare has been adapted twice for film. The first adaptation was the Finnish language Jäniksen vuosi (1977) directed by Risto Jarva. There does not appear to be a trailer available for it, but a clip excerpt can be viewed on YouTube here. It is the scene where the fisherman Hannikaisen reveals his conspiracy theory to Vatanen about the Finnish President Kekkonen having been replaced by a body double.
The second adaptation was the French language Le lièvre de Vatanen (2006) directed by Marc Rivière. A French language trailer without subtitles can be viewed on YouTube here.

The LR Kuldsari (Estonian: Golden Series) presents readers with a selection of works published in the Loomingu Raamatukogu (Estonian: The Creation Library) throughout the ages. These are favorites from over the past six decades which confirm that the classics never get old! Six books will be published annually, one every two months. - translated from the publisher's website.

The Loomingu Raamatukogu is a modestly priced Estonian literary journal which initially published weekly (from 1957 to 1994) and which now publishes 40 issues a year as of 1995. It is a great source for discovery as its relatively cheap prices (currently 3 to 5€ per issue) allow for access to a multitude of international writers in Estonian translation and of shorter works by Estonian authors themselves. These include poetry, theatre, essays, short stories, novellas and novels (the lengthier works are usually parcelled out over several issues).

For a complete listing of all works issued to date by Loomingu Raamatukogu including those in the Golden Series (at the bottom) see Estonian Wikipedia at: https://et.wikipedia.org/wiki/Looming...
Profile Image for sfogliarsi.
311 reviews192 followers
May 25, 2022
Primo approccio con questo scrittore superato, mi ha davvero sorpreso.
Un libro interessante, un libro-culto nei paesi nordici che ha creato un genere nuovo: il romanzo umoristico-ecologico. Non ho mai letto un libro del genere e devo dire che ha soddisfatto le mie aspettative, anche se non del tutto. Nel senso non mi aspettavo una lettura del genere e leggerla mi ha davvero colpita. Si tratta di una storia forte, tratta da una storia vera e tutto ciò fa venire i brividi.

Il libro raccolta le stravaganti peripezie del giornalista di Helsinki Vatanen che, dopo avere investito una lepre, la cerca, la cura e decide di sparire con lei nei boschi della Finlandia. Improvvisamente decide di cambiare vita, si allontana da tutti i suoi cari, per vivere come un vagabondo immerso nella natura. Tanto alla fine non aveva nulla di perdere: il suo matrimonio era in crisi da anni e il suo lavoro, benché all’inizio era bellissimo, dopo un po’ di anni era diventato monotono e quasi finto. Pensa che scappare da tutto sia la cosa giusta da fare.. ma da sé stesso non può scappare. Improvvisamente inizia un’avventura, in mezzo alle selvagge foreste del Nord, tra animali selvaggi e incendi notturni, senza fretta e senza meta, sempre accompagnato dalla sua lepre, ormai diventato “suo figlio”, unico compagno sincero e degno di stare al suo fianco. E così la sua fuga dal passato diventa un viaggio iniziatico verso la libertà, la scoperta che la vita può essere reinventata ogni momento e che, se la felicità è per natura anarchica e sovversiva, si può anche provare ad avere il coraggio di inseguirla.

Un libro breve ma intenso, con una postfazione davvero toccante e bellissima. Felice di aver recuperato questo titolo, adesso vorrei recuperare altro.
Profile Image for Amorfna.
204 reviews68 followers
October 4, 2016
U realnosti, kolebam se između tri i četiri zvezdice ali pošto sa ocenjivanjem generalno loše stojim, knjiga je nekako topla i prijatna a i na godišnjem sam, nek bude četiri , za zeca kao simbol divljine koji pokazuje više humanosti i vaspitanja nego civilizovani građani. Nek ide život.

Nemoguće je ne povući paralelu sa Doplerom, tematika je slična.

Beg od civilizacije, traženje sebe kroz povratak prirodi, kritika modernog društva.
Ne preterano prefinjeno poređenje s moje strane ali Dopler je na neki način Godina zeca na steroidima, skoro pa parodija.

Pasilina nudi paletu lucidnih i neobičnih epizoda i likova ali boji radnju mekšim tonovima i suptilnim humorom za razliku od Luovog cinizma i ’ in your face’ humora.
Možda zbog toga Godina zeca ne deluje zaista kao satira već gotovo kao zabavni road trip zeke i čoveka koji je svestan da ga u civilizaciji više ništa lepo ne čeka. A možda je samo već moj mozak toliko izbombardovan sličnim temama da ne reaguje na suptilnost.

Sve u svemu, prijatno i zabavno čitanje.

Volela bih da je knjiga završila pre nego što se ’ desilo’ 19.poglavlje koje je bilo potpuno van konteksta i kao da je nekako upalo tu greškom. Generalno odatle kreće nizbrdo.

Zec. Mnogo sam se plašila za tog zeca, ko da je moj. Mislim da do kraja knjige više nisam mogla da razdvojim zeca i Vatanena kao zasebne karaktere .

Što mi se zapravo i svidelo.
Profile Image for Julie.
1,910 reviews38 followers
October 8, 2019
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 enjoyed most of the writing and the anticipation of where next in Finland they would find themselves.
Profile Image for Jean.
1,701 reviews736 followers
October 25, 2017
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-cabin. Vatanen has quite a few adventures and helps other animals. He frequently meets the reindeer herders as they cross paths in the wilderness. Then suddenly he finds he has accidentally crossed the border into the Soviet Union.

I enjoyed reading about the Finnish wilderness and Finland of the 1970s. The book is an enjoyable read. The book was originally published in 1975 in Finland. The author is a popular Finnish author and his books have been translated into 27 languages.

I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book is four and a half hours long. Simon Vance does an excellent job narrating the book. Vance is an actor and has won many Earphone Awards and been nominated several times for the Audie Award. He has won the Golden Voice Award.
Profile Image for P.E..
753 reviews508 followers
April 8, 2020
You can read this farcical tale in a jiffy ;)

Starting from a scene of commuting, that one turns into a nonsensical yet sensible parade of road trips and binge drinking sessions and bear hunting throughout Finland and farther :P

Matching Soundtrack :
Viðrar vel til loftárása - Sigur Rós


Un conte léger qui se lit comme de rien !
Et ça part vite en bon gros road trip beurré des familles ! ;)

Fond musical :
Viðrar vel til loftárása - Sigur Rós
Profile Image for Gabriele Pallonetto.
117 reviews128 followers
January 25, 2021
Il romanzo più importante di tutto il Catalogo Iperborea, "L'anno della lepre" di Arto Paasilinna.
Perché l'ho definito il più importante?
Perché è semplicemente il titolo che ha ricevuto più ristampe in assoluto tra tutti quelli pubblicati dalla casa editrice: dalla sua pubblicazione nel 1994 sono state prodotte oltre 30 ristampe per un totale di oltre 100mila copie vendute!
Ma qual è il segreto del titolo di punta di casa Iperborea?
Il passaparola?
La qualità della scrittura?
La lepre in copertina?
Dopo averlo divorato in un paio di giorni posso dirvi senza ombra di dubbio che questo non è un libro, È UN MANIFESTO!
Non c'è nulla di più rappresentativo di questo titolo per descrivere l'intero catalogo della CE.
D'altronde, la storia di un tipo, che di punto in bianco lascia definitivamente famiglia, lavoro e amici per andare in giro per i boschi gelidi della Finlandia in compagnia di una lepre, come la si potrebbe definire se non l'unità di misura a cui ogni pubblicazione Iperborea è costretta a misurarsi?
Profile Image for Milan Trpkovic.
277 reviews57 followers
November 29, 2018
Kratka, iskrena, zanimljiva, kritična i zabavna knjiga. Pasalina je još jednom potvrdio da mi njegov stil pisanja poprilično prija i da često povlačim paralelu između njega i Erlenda Lua.
Uživao sam čitajući ovu knjigu u prevozu od kuće do posla.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,352 reviews2,396 followers
June 2, 2015
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 home from a business trip. He manages admirably bushwhacking in the woods, and relies on the generosity of strangers. He has adventures, finds outdoor work, enjoys life, all while carrying a hare with him as he goes.

Doppler used an elk instead of a hare to accompany the main character. Everything about this second iteration of the theme is out-sized and almost a parody of the first book, which is sweetly understated and sniggeringly funny rather than chortlingly funny. Norway's out-sized oil wealth among the populace in recent years makes Doppler all the more an anguished critique of the society.

Anyway, the first time reading a book like this can be a revelation, so I recommend one of them at least. The part of this book I liked best, perhaps, may have been the knowing Foreword by Pico Iyer in the 2010 Penguin edition in English. He seems to capture the wonder the first-time reader will experience by finding this book for the first time.

Either book can be read in an evening, and the copy of The Year of the Hare that I had looked like someone had enjoyed it at the beach. Good idea.
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