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The Year of the Hare: A Novel by Arto…

The Year of the Hare: A Novel (original 1975; edition 2010)

by Arto Paasilinna, Pico Iyer (Foreword)

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Title:The Year of the Hare: A Novel
Authors:Arto Paasilinna
Other authors:Pico Iyer (Foreword)
Info:Penguin (Non-Classics) (2010), Edition: Original, Paperback, 208 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Fiction, Finnish, Read, 2011

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The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna (1975)


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English (33)  French (5)  Norwegian (3)  Swedish (2)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (47)
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
As the evening of a Finnish midsummer draws in two men, tired after a long and quarrelsome day, are heading home, driving into the sun, the beauty of their surroundings lost on them.

"They were a journalist and a photographer, out on an assignment: two dissatisfied, cynical men, getting on for middle age. The hopes of their youth had not been realized, far from it. They were husbands, deceiving and deceived; stomach ulcers on the way for both of them; and many other worries filled their days."

"On the crest of a hillock, an immature hare was trying its leaps in the middle of the road. Tipsy with summer, it perched on its hind legs, framed by the red sun."

The photographer brakes too late. The leaping leveret hits the windscreen and is thrown off into the forest. The photographer backs up to the place where the hare was hit and the journalist rushes into the trees to look for it. He finds it, and although its left hind leg is broken it seems otherwise unharmed. The journalist makes a splint for its leg and cradles the hare in his arms as it calms down. He doesn't respond to the impatient calls from the photographer, who angrily drives off, abandoning him. The journalist, Vatanen, idly looks through his wallet and considers its contents, indicative as they are of his life. He then picks up the hare and heads deeper into the forest.

Leaving his old life behind, and outwitting initial attempts by his wife and employer to get him back, Vatanen sets out on a series of adventures largely determined by, or as a consequence of, his concern for the hare. The adventures become increasingly bizarre as Vatanen fights forest fires, herds cows, becomes involved in military war games, and tracks a bear across the border into Russia - always accompanied by the hare.

Part whimsey, part satire, part shaggy dog story, according to the back cover of my edition 'The Year Of The Hare' is the author's favourite of his works, and has long been a best seller in Finland and France (an interesting pairing). I was surprised to see that the novel "is frequently dramatized for the stage and has been made into a film twice". I can't begin to imagine how this could be played out on stage. Even a film would miss the spread and the affectionate detail of the work.

One I will definitely be rereading.
2 vote Oandthegang | Jul 24, 2014 |
Synopsis: Arto Paasilinna is a Laplander, born in Finland in 1942. He is a woodcutter, farm labor, journalist and poet and author of more than thirty novels. The short little story is the tale of a journalist who one day walks away from it all after finding a wounded hare that was just hit by their car. The adventure takes us through Finland with the man and the hare. He works in the forest, helps with various jobs and runs into all kinds of adventures such as forest fires, bears and ravens. It is a humorous story but also a story of a simpler life in harmony with nature.

Opinion: I liked the book because there was so much that brought back childhood memories. This story reminded me so much of my earlier life. My family lived in an area where Finnish people had settled and it is a lot like this land. My dad was best friends with a Finn. The hunted, fished and trapped together. My parents made fish soup and many other Finnish dishes. I took some Finnish cooking classes. The sauna is part of family life. I grew up with the sauna and miss it a lot. The Finnish people that I knew, knew nature. If you grow up in Finland maybe nature is just too much of the culture not to adapt quickly. The story seemed so very believable to me because of my life. Even in college I roomed with a Finnish gal. ( )
  Kristelh | Apr 9, 2014 |
Getting a glimpse of Finland that doesn't involve murder, drugs, and detectives, but involves some true Finlanders, some mayhem, and a hare -- priceless.

Warm and fuzzy, the vignettes of this story are not (though the hare is). Charming, honest, direct, they are. Together they tell the story of Vatanen(what is his first name -- it's never told), a journalist, who while on assignment, comes across a baby hare who is injured (most probably by the car Vatanen is in, maybe even driving) and leaves his job, his somewhat unpleasant wife, and the life he knows, to trek around Finland with the hare. The characters he meets are so well drawn, I could picture how the scene would play out in a movie (thinking of the bulldozer driver here, after the forest fire, particularly). The work and situations he finds himself contain humor, and that dark slice of life that part of the world does so well.

I did find the narrative rather flat, as if a retelling, and wasn't sure if it was the translation into English or a style choice of the author, until the end.

Apparently Paasilinna is sort of a national treasure of Finland. I'd like to check out more of his books. ( )
  bookczuk | Dec 24, 2013 |
Kooky adventure story about a man who gives up city life for a meandering year in the country. During this year he nurses the injured hare back to health makes friends and enemies and gets involved in a few crazy schemes. A fun, easy read. ( )
  nbermudez | May 9, 2013 |
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 lot of adventures which could be thought of as blokeish in a more old fashioned sense, including manual work such as logging and building; fishing; drinking; firefighting and the like. It's an earthy and practical account of escaping to a simpler way of life and - though Vatanen and the hare have many strokes of luck - it's never flowery, hippy-dippy or idealised in the way that recent British "escape to the country" books can be.

Finished 18 Sept 2011. ( )
  antonomasia | Apr 4, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Arto Paasilinnaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Iyer, PicoForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lomas, HerbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Two harassed men were driving down a lane.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Original title: Jäniksen vuosi
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Book description
Vatanen, the journalist is feeling burned out and sick of the city. One summer evening while on assignment his car hits a young hare on a country road. Vatanen leaves the car to save the injured creature. This small incident becomes a turning point in Vatanen's life as he decides to break free from the world's constraints. He quits his job, leaves his wife, sells his possessions to travel the Finnish wilds with his new found friend. Their adventures take in forest fires, pagan sacrifices, military war games, killer bears and much more.
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While out on assignment, a journalist hits a young 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… (more)

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