The Year of the Hare

The Year of the Hare

by Arto Paasilinna

A journalist and a photographer set out on an assignment on lovely sunny evening.

The grateful animal adopts Vatanen and together the two scamper through farcical adventures and political scandal.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Fiction
  • Rating: 3.63
  • Pages: 135
  • Publish Date: November 1st 2006 by Peter Owen Publishers
  • Isbn10: 0720612772
  • Isbn13: 9780720612776

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ENGLISH (The Year of the Hare) / ITALIANO Vatanen, a Finnish journalist, is in conflict with his life. 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. Vote: 7,5 Vatanen, giornalista finlandese, è in conflitto con la vita che conduce. 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.

Our protagonist walks out on his life and wanders rural Finland with a hare (which he has rescued) as his companion.

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.

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. 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? 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?

This strange, dull and dimwitted collection of feeble fables may possibly be analogies or legends of Finnish culture.

Has a time ever come into your life when you thought of just walking away and leave everything behind? Kaarlo Vatanen, a journalist and a photographer, does exactly like that in this book. The book is thought-provoking because it is about what one really wants to do in ones life when you get to its mid-point. 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 weve 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. 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.

It starts off in 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.

(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 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.