The Human Part by Kari Hotakainen
Original title - Ihmisen osa
Translator – Owen F Witesman
Source – review copy
Well day two of Maclehose press celebration here on Winstonsdad .I now move north from Italy to Finland and one of the most acclaimed writers Kari Hotakinen .He is a multi talented writer .He started as both a poet and Journalist,he is a columnist for the finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. He started writing novels in the mid nineties this is his tenth novel,and his latest and the first I’ve read by him .It won the Runeberg prize Sofi Oksanen has also previously won this prize which awarded every year . .
My name is Salme Sinikka Malmikunnas ,and everything that I say will be printed word for word in this book .The author promised me this .In alarm he even suggested that my words be printed in italics ,which apparently emphasizes the importance of the words .
The opening lines of the novel .
So the premise of The human part is a sort off retelling of the old story of some one selling their life to someone else .In this case it is Salame an elderly lady who ran a button shop ,the cover is rather clever a red thread flows through the city and back to Salame at the bottom , she happens to meets a writer he has writers block and is looking for a story ,so after much persuading and a wad of money she agrees to sell him her life story she had four but only three are still alive and they all have their own problems but their ,mother tends to view their lives with rose-tinted specs .So she starts her story to the writer ,tell the story of herself ,husband and her childrens lives .But what is the writer putting down in writing as she speaks and is her vision of the family the same as his vision of her family ? What will he write about her kids lives ? ,What will he make of the dark secret that lies at the back of the family ? All this and more is revealed as you move through her life and that of her kids as well .
The author interrupted to say that he didn’t intend to turn the Dictaphone on for the whole time we were meeting .As he said this he took a notepad and pencil out of his pocket .I said he needed to put those away while I was speaking as well .The author shock his head and reminded me that he had paid for goods that he would be taking with him in some form ,
The telling of her tale begins .
So its easy to see Salame and the writers pact to sell her story to him .As a twist on the old Faustian tale of selling your soul to the devil of course the writer isn’t the devil but he does makes Salame begin of view her life in a darker way than she did .the book is also a clever critic on modern Life in Finland but not just Finland ,we all see the world our own ways and we all see our families one way , because they are our family .This book yet again shows we live in an age of changing values of the general public and how much people willing to reveal all about themselves if the money is right .Via this story we see pain and suffering with in the family unit in modern Finland .This is a book that even thou it is set in Finland , can ring true to every one in this modern world .
Have you a favourite Finnish writer ?