At this year’s Latitude festival our correspondent Calvin Barden was offered a seat in the back of a converted ambulance to receive a literary cure for his troubles. Complaining of general malaise, his nurse recommended ‘The Year of The Hare’ by Arto Paasilinna, and here Calvin reports on his enjoyable cure…
The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna, Finland’s most famous novel by its second most famous author after Tovi Jansson, was always going to be an interesting read. For the country that gave us the magical Moomins has now given us Vatanen, a word and world weary city journalist.
One day he injures a young hare whilst driving. He stops to search for the lame beast and abandons his old way of life in order to care for it. There follows a series of ever serious and exciting events that leads him further still from his past.
Forest fires, bear attacks and hunts, drunken binges, cattle ranching, romance and many other well written adventures sweep you along. The hare is the constant presence which holds the story together. The backdrop of a thinly populated semi-wilderness within the arctic circle is brilliantly portrayed and alien enough for most of us to find fascinating.
It is a story of letting go of the constraints of life: jobs, salaries, and relationships and learning to live in the present. This is a book that will say different things to different people and overall it is an uplifting tale that ends on a magical note.