Original title: Nälkävuosi
Author: Aki Ollikainen
Genre: Literary Fiction
A mother and her two young children trudge through a swirling snowstorm, with nothing but endless misery around them and golden, grand St. Petersburg as their destination. The endless winter and ruthless hunger have turned people into animals, and on their journey the family comes face-to-face with a reality that is nearly impossible to imagine today.
Meanwhile, the better-off Renqvist brothers have their own existential questions to deal with. Teo, a doctor, ponders in anguish what kind of god could let such a calamity fall upon mankind; Lars, an assistant to a senator, decides to bury his doubts by blindly trusting the decisions of his superior. When the hungry family and the Renqvists cross paths, humanity, in the end, triumphs amongst all suffering.
‘White Hunger’ is Aki Ollikainen’s debut work, but it is written with the control of someone who has mastered the form. It has won four of Finland’s literary prizes, and I imagine this is not only down to the spare, taut prose, but to the way in which it documents one of the most painful periods of Finnish history. [---] The book ends with hope, with the idea of a future; that it is from such catastrophes that nations are born.
Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian
FINLAND: Siltala (orig.)
CHINA: Guangxi Normal University Press Group
FRANCE: Éditions Héloïse d'Ormesson
GERMANY: Transit Verlag
NETHERLANDS: Ambo Anthos
PORTUGUESE (BRAZIL): Numa Editora
SPAIN: Libros del Asteroide
SWEDEN: Lind & Co
WORLD ARABIC: Al-Arabi
WORLD ENGLISH: Peirene Press