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Publisher's Summary

Vatanen, a journalist, is feeling burned out and sick of the city. One summer evening, he and a photographer set out on an assignment, and as they drive through the country, the car hits a young hare. Vatanen leaves the car to save the injured creature, and the grateful animal adopts him. This small incident becomes a turning point in Vatanen’s life as he decides to break free from the world’s constraints. He quits his job, leaves his wife, and sells his possessions to travel the Finnish wilds with his newfound friend. During their farcical adventures they encounter forest fires, pagan sacrifices, military war games, killer bears, political scandals, and much more.

ARTO PAASILINNA is a writer whose works have been at the top of the bestseller lists for twenty years. His books long remained unnoticed by Finland’s chronically antagonistic literary critics, but thanks to his great popularity, many of them have reassessed their opinions. In France, his books have not only proven bestsellers but also critical triumphs.

©2010 Translation 1995 by Herbert Lomas; foreword 2010 by Pico Iyer (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“Paasilinna has been amusing Finns for thirty years and readers in twenty-five languages.” (New York Times)
“This picaresque novel could simply depict a middle-age crisis, but it reaches beyond fantasy or fiction, becoming mythic in its universal themes. The story is inventive, satirical, and quite humorous.” (Booklist)
“I love The Year of the Hare…Which of us wouldn’t secretly want to live in a novel as fresh and as full of events as this one?” (Pico Iyer)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.0 out of 5.0
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    20

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5.0
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    173
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    50
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    9
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    6

Story

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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    185
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Fascinating Finnish Follies

A reporter in Finland rescues a baby hare and discovers his humanity and physical strength tested.
The ending is most gratifying.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Delightful

I loved this book. The narrator does a great job (as he did in The Girl w/ the Dragon Tatoo series).

The author creates a beautiful narrative and his descriptions put you there with the man and the hare. You remain fully engaged through the tale. Listen and enjoy.

19 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • D
  • 11-03-17

A modern day fairy tale

Although primarily a story about a man who leaves everything behind and starts a new life on the spur of the moment, the addition of the wild hare captured my interest at least as much as the man's journey did. I was constantly concerned about the welfare of the animal, and the man (Vaatenon?) earned my sympathy by constantly going out of his way to provide for the hare and protect it from assault by everything from government officials to bears. This book ranges from funny to serious, but remains mostly lighthearted and fairy tale-ish, and I enjoyed it immensely.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Janice
  • Sugar Land, TX, United States
  • 11-03-17

Lost in translation

While the premise was intriguing, I was disappointed in how undeveloped Vatanen was as a character. Initially I was under the impression he must have been relatively old as he mused on the disappointments of his life. But as he gets into his adventures, it was obvious that he had to be much younger than I thought. Actually, we are never told how old he is, or much else about who he is as a person. His sojourn with his furry companion is a series of encounters in which the people he meets are the center of attention and he is the spectator. And when each encounter is over, it’s over and we move on, seemingly unaffected. If we were intended to get something out of each episode, then the message got lost in translation.

In the last 1/3 things start getting stranger, with Vatanen changing from his mild mannered self to something more erratic and darker, with no arc in the story creating the change. The ending was unfinished and just dropped off the ledge. There was enough in the relationship between man and hare to lend some gentle sweetness, and Simon Vance’s usual marvelous performance was also a great asset. I can round up to 3 stars for what is really a 2.5.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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A break from everyday commotion

I was on the fence committing to this book but it was worth every minute spent listening to. I live a very busy commercial life and at times, listening to this book, I wanted to break free and be with Vatanen, knowing very well he would despise my presence.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The year of the hare

Much better than I was anticipating. Funny, wry, ironic and just entertaining. Enjoy and share. Loved the ending too

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Interesting

More like a collection of vaguely related short stories that require you to fill in the gaps.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Not worth even 4 hours

I don't know if there's much worse than a painfully boring beginning or end, this was even worse, it started out with great and died immediately after never to be interesting again. The idea had immense potential, it's too bad!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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Interesting for a Book Club Book Discussion

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

It was satisfying and in keeping with the plot and character.s

Have you listened to any of Simon Vance’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Laughing out loud several times.

Any additional comments?

Interesting view of life through Finnish author writing in the seventies

14 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Story
  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 10-25-17

A Satire

Kaarlo Vatanen is unhappy with his life. Vatanen, a journalist, is traveling to a meeting in a colleague’s automobile. They accidently hit a hare and Vatanen get out to find the injured animal. He finds it but his colleague has gone on without him. Vatanen decides not to return to his life. He sells his possessions and goes to live in the Finnish countryside with the hare.

This is an escape-from-civilization, back-to-nature type story. Vatanen takes odd jobs in secluded places and fixes up a log-cabin. Vatanen has quite a few adventures and helps other animals. He frequently meets the reindeer herders as they cross paths in the wilderness. Then suddenly he finds he has accidentally crossed the border into the Soviet Union.

I enjoyed reading about the Finnish wilderness and Finland of the 1970s. The book is an enjoyable read. The book was originally published in 1975 in Finland. The author is a popular Finnish author and his books have been translated into 27 languages.

The book is four and a half hours long. Simon Vance does an excellent job narrating the book. Vance is an actor and has won many Earphone Awards and been nominated several times for the Audie Award. He has won the Golden Voice Award.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful