The Year of the Hare

Arto Paasilinna, trans. from the Finnish by Herbert Lomas, Penguin, $14 trade paper (194p) ISBN 978-0-14-311792-6
First published in 1975 at the height of the back-to-nature movement, Paasilinna's charming, low-key allegory pursues a journalist abandoning his Helsinki life for the companionship of a pet hare. Approaching middle age—"the hopes of [his] youth had not been realized, far from it"—Kaarlo Vatanen takes off after a hare he and his friend have accidentally hit while driving. He tends to the hare's leg, befriends the critter, deserts his friend, gradually sheds his former life, and eventually refits a cozy cabin in the wilds of Lapland. Paasilinna fashions in each step of Kaarlo's transformation a test of society's institutions, and finds each, not surprisingly, wanting, from law enforcement and the construction industry to the army. The hare, meanwhile, is innocently plucky, leaving his droppings on the altar of a church and in the soup of a Swedish lady. It's cute enough, if baldly obvious in the way that parables often are. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/08/2010
Release date: 12/01/2010
Genre: Fiction
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