Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Yes, a novel set in Estonia can be riveting

I knew next to nothing about the Baltic states Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia when I began reading Purge on Saturday night.

By the time I finished the book this morning over breakfast I had developed, through the eyes of Aliide Truu, the protagonist, a sound understanding of the sufferings of Estonia and Estonians before World War II, during World War II, and after World War II, until the country became free again during the post-Gorbachev era.

Of course, that's as far as history goes. Purge, though, offers much more than a history lesson it gives readers a unique insight into human behaviour with a cast of characters ranging from an apparently sweet old "grandmother" to a young woman on the run from men who have forced her into sexual slavery.

Sofi Oksanen, the Finnish-Estonian author, won the European Book Prize for Purge, which she wrote in Finnish, in 2010. I am not surprised. It's time now for the English-speaking world to discover her.
  • Read Sofi Oksanen's prize acceptance speech here.
  • Read Maya Jaggi's review of Purge in the Guardian here.

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