The book was the #1 bestselling Finnish novel in 2014. In January Valtonen was awarded the Shadow Finlandia prize given by Finland’s most highly regarded bookstore, Academic Bookstore, to the year’s bestselling Finlandia Prize nominee.
Rights to the novel have been sold in the World English territories to Oneworld Publications, in France to Fayard and in the Netherlands to Signatuur/A.W. Bruna. Contact the Agency for an English sample!
They Know Not What They Do also continues to draw rave reviews from literary bloggers.
New praise for They Know Not What They Do:
“The winning streak of They Know Not What They Do, boosted by the Finlandia Prize, feels exceptionally well deserved. As an existential examination of the weightiness of individual moments, the difficulty of love and the impossibility of endless choices it is similar to Valtonen’s previous novel, but it also jumps into new spheres, into neuroscience literature and a dystopian satire set in our time.”
– Kiiltomato (“Glowworm”) literature blog, Finland
“The book is hearty, both in its topics and its size, and yet it doesn’t have too much of anything. They Know Not What They Do is a book about how nothing is black and white. It’s both a suspense story and a critique of today’s phenomena. It asks why prejudices override common sense…and yet it doesn’t point fingers or provoke, but evokes just the right amount of feeling and inspires one to think. I read the ending with tears in my eyes…..the best Finnish book of 2014, in my opinion.”
– Anna minun lukea enemmän (“Let Me Read More”) literature blog, Finland
“One has to live the book, to practically devour it. In the end it is also piercingly touching.”
– Luettua elämää (“Life Read”) literature blog, Finland
About They Know Not What They Do:
When professor Joe Chayefski’s neuroscience lab in Baltimore is attacked by animal rights activists, he doesn’t connect the dots at first. But when he receives a phone call from Alina, his Finnish ex-wife, he begins to gradually realize that the threats on his career and new family are connected to Samuel, the son he left behind in Finland two decades ago. Joe soon learns that his son’s life has gone badly astray, and that Samuel has devoted himself to extreme animal rights activism. Joe realizes that he has to take action to protect his wife and two daughters from his estranged son, by any means necessary.
They Know Not What They Do offers readers piercing psychological insight. It is also a dystopian satire of a world in which nothing is private and everything is for sale.
Jussi Valtonen (b. 1974) is an author and psychologist from Helsinki. He studied neuropsychology in the United States and screenwriting in the UK. His previous works include two novels and a short story collection. His novel, Carried by Wings (Siipien kantamat, Tammi 2007) was awarded second place in Bonnier’s novel competition, and received a warm reception from both critics and bloggers.
Original publisher: FINLAND, Tammi
NETHERLANDS, Signatuur/A.W. Bruna
WORLD ENGLISH, Oneworld Publications