More On Hotakainen

It is always fun when a reader who reads a book that doesn’t seem at first to be there usual fare comes up with a wonderfully insightful review. (And, yes, a wonderfully positive review, let’s be honest.) Readerdad concedes in his review of The Human Part that “This seems an unusual one for me, and I’m not afraid to admit that the beautiful cover was what enticed me to check what was inside”, but also poses questions even the author might not be able to answer:

What is, perhaps, most interesting about the book, is that we’re never quite sure why this discrepancy exists: is Salme outright lying, rather than just omitting some details, as she would lead us to believe? Are the children lying to their mother, so that the ideal life she describes for each is the life she believes they lead? Are the sections describing the children pure fiction, invented by the author to make this old lady’s story seem more interesting and entertaining. There are subtle clues throughout, but Hotakainen leaves it to the reader to decide. Either way, Salme’s dislike of fiction would seem well-founded.

He goes on to make a very interesting, frankly left field but rather pleasing comparison:

At the heart of the story lies the catastrophic event that has prompted Salme’s need for money. When the event happens – it is described around three-quarters of the way into the book – a light goes on inside the reader’s mind, and all of the seemingly chance encounters between characters suddenly take on a whole new meaning. The closest I can come to describe it is that feeling most people get when they reach the end of The Sixth Sense – that moment of revelation that leaves you open-mouthed in astonishment and wondering how you might have missed what now seems so obvious. In this case, the clue is embedded in the cover – that red yarn that connects everyone and everything together – but it’s still extremely clever how Hotakainen manages to make all the pieces fit so neatly together.

Then concludes with a promise of guaranteed satisfaction, with the caveat that every reader may find themselves reading a different book:

It’s beautifully-written, in an excellent translation that manages to lose none of the subtleties that give the story its sense of ambiguity – a sense that should give every reader a slightly different experience. A beautiful package that won’t disappoint on any level, it will leave the reader – as it has me – pining for translations of Hotakainen’s back catalogue as soon as possible.

Thank you, Readerdad. I am clearly biased because I LOVE THIS BOOK, but I can’t think of a review of a novel that I’ve already read or published that I enjoyed reading as much this.

The review is well worth reading in full.


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