Praise in the Netherlands for Finlandia Prize Winner Jussi Valtonen

We are thrilled to share wonderful reviews for the Dutch edition of THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO by Jussi Valtonen, published by A.W. Bruna/Signatuur in Spring 2016:

“An ambitious, nuanced plea for compassion. […] It’s a strikingly unusual book, especially in these times of big data and advanced analytics […]  Underneath is a classic story of one man’s downfall […] Despite the classic subject it is also a story of our time.”  – De Standaard, Belgium

 “The subject and plot are great. If you sit through 600 pages, there is a spectacular ending.” – Vrij Nederland Detective- en Thrillergids

“I have to say. This a great page-turner, in which humor and sharpness are in perfect balance. Stylistically he knows how to keep the tension high. His characters are not flat caricatures, which often is the case in satires, but real people of flesh and blood. Convincing are especially the headstrong Joe and the naïve but also slightly paranoid Alina. The themes might be heavy, but the style is light. Valtonen shows a grotesque world, but it is recognizably our world.” – Medisch Contact

“Even though it is quite a long book, the story grabs you right from the beginning.” – NBD Biblion 

“Valtonen starts his big novel promising and delivers all through to the ending. […] He is a talented author – precise wording, intelligent ideas and a very strong plot – who has written a superior novel.” –

“If you buy They know not what they do, you get value for money.” –


  • Finlandia Prize winner with 100,000 copies sold in Finland and rights sold in 10 territories
  • Jonathan Franzen meets Brave New World by way of David Mitchell

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 realize that the threats on his career and new family may be connected to Samuel, the son he left behind in Finland two decades ago. Samuel’s life appears having gone badly astray, and he has devoted himself to extreme animal activism. Joe has to take action to protect his wife and two daughters from his estranged son, by any means necessary.

Contact the Agency for reading materials!

English manuscript
Dutch edition
Finnish edition

They Know Not What They Do
FINLAND, Tammi (Original publisher)
FRANCE, Fayard
GERMANY, Piper Verlag
HUNGARY, Cser Publishing
LITHUANIA, Alma Littera
NETHERLANDS, Signatuur/A.W. Bruna
POLAND, Foksal
VIETNAM, Chibooks

About author

Jussi Valtonen

Jussi Valtonen (1974) is an author and psychologist from Helsinki. He has studied neuropsychology in the United States and screenwriting in the UK, and has also worked as a science reporter. He has written three novels and a short story collection.

Carried by Wings (Siipien kantamat, Tammi 2007) was given second place in Bonnier’s novel competition, and received a warm reception from both critics and bloggers. In 2014 Valtonen was awarded the Finlandia Prize, the country’s highest-profile literary award, for They Know Not What They Do (He eivät tiedä mitä tekevät, Tammi 2014).


2014, Literary Fiction

They Know Not What They Do

Jussi Valtonen