Review: The Human Part

Dammit Maclehose are so good.  They’ve just published another cracker of a story.  The Human Part by Finnish writer Kari Hotakainen, is translated into English by Owen F. Witesman.

Elderly woman Salme Sinikka Malmikunnas agrees to share her life story with a writer she meets at a book festival.  The writer, who is suffering a severe block, is grateful for the new material and Salme is grateful for the money.  However things don’t go as smoothly as both hope as Salme’s life fails to provide the desired amount of drama and the writer begins to take liberties.  An issue that doesn’t sit well with Salme, who is not a fan of fiction and has insisted from the beginning that she will only tell her story if it will be “printed word for word”.  I was intrigued by the premise but fell for it because of the writing.  Hotakainen was awarded the Finlandia Prize for Fiction in 2002 for his book Juoksuhaudantie (Battle Trench Avenue).

But never mind all that, the thing that makes this book so good is the perfect balance Hotakainen strikes between humour and gravitas. I devoured it and found it quite unexpectedly moving.  I know it’s one I will return to reread.  Oh, and I love the cover.

 



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