While on his rural tour in autumn 1914, the tenor singer Aarne Oden coughs up a life-threatening amount of blood, and he is diagnosed with tuberculosis. He is sent off to the tuberculosis sanatorium, the kingdom of those hanging on to life by just a thread.
At the same time, in a remote village in the north, the preacher and landowner Kustaa Anttola is preparing for the Michaelmas prayer proceedings. However, the preparations get interrupted when he finds the local madman Stye-Viljaami drinking in his barn. In his anger, Kustaa gives Viljami a heavy beating. During the prayers, Kustaa’s life is forever altered as Christ appears behind the window to listen to his sermon.
Aarne, who has recovered at the sanatorium, also finds himself in the north, supervising the transportation of munitions of the Russian Empire, from the coasts of the Arctic Ocean to the northernmost railroad station of the Empire. When spring comes, Aarne meets Christ on the shore of a wild lake and finds that the two have more in common than he thought. And soon, Kustaa Anttola finds two Christs on his land.
How do people see themselves when they’re forced to give up what they have constructed their identity on, and illness becomes the characteristic trait defining them? And how does one see their loved ones, marked by death and illness? What happens to a righteous preacher when the long-expected Christ arrives before him in the form of the creature most wretched?
Aki Ollikainen’s latest novel grows larger in size thanks to its lyrical language. The individual scenes are like expressionist paintings reaching over the visible world.