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Purgeby Sofi Oksanen
"Although still much an unknown in the English-speaking world, Finnish-Estonian playwright, novelist, and activist Sofi Oksanen has become something of a household name in northern and central Europe. Declared Estonia's 'Person of the Year' in 2009, Oksanen is the first to win both of Finland's prestigious literary prizes — the Finlandia and the Runeberg — as well as winning this year's Nordic Council Literature Prize for her virtuosic novel Purge. At once a daring exploration of the Soviet occupation of Estonia, as well as a wrenching consideration of the irrevocable effects of trauma on an individual, Purge navigates the tragedies, petty betrayals, and reverberating guilt of three generations of Estonian women, all struggling to survive their own violent circumstances, no matter the cost." Larissa Kyzer, Three Percent (read the entire National Book Critic's Circle review)
Synopses & Reviews
Soon to be published in twenty-five languages, Sofi Oksanen’s award-winning novel Purge is a breathtakingly suspenseful tale of two women dogged by their own shameful pasts and the dark, unspoken history that binds them.
When Aliide Truu, an older woman living alone in the Estonian countryside, finds a disheveled girl huddled in her front yard, she suppresses her misgivings and offers her shelter. Zara is a young sex-trafficking victim on the run from her captors, but a photo she carries with her soon makes it clear that her arrival at Aliide’s home is no coincidence. Survivors both, Aliide and Zara engage in a complex arithmetic of suspicion and revelation to distill each other’s motives; gradually, their stories emerge, the culmination of a tragic family drama of rivalry, lust, and loss that played out during the worst years of Estonia’s Soviet occupation.
Sofi Oksanen establishes herself as one the most important voices of her generation with this intricately woven tale, whose stakes are almost unbearably high from the first page to the last. Purge is a fiercely compelling and damning novel about the corrosive effects of shame, and of life in a time and place where to survive is to be implicated.
"Oksanen's uneven first novel to be translated into English follows one family through three generations during the Soviet occupation of the Baltics. In 1992, Aliide Truu finds a ragged and abused young woman collapsed near her rural Estonian home. The girl, Zara, is supposedly fleeing from her husband, and Aliide, an aged widow, whisks Zara inside and offers her shelter and sustenance. But when Zara shows Aliide an old picture of Aliide and her sister, Ingel, it becomes clear that Zara's choice in sanctuary wasn't coincidental. The contours of each of their lives are gradually revealed: Zara's path from being a poor Russian teenager to a fugitive sex worker (depictions of her working life are especially graphic and lean toward gratuitous) with a violent pimp on her trail; Aliide and Ingel navigating the beginning of the Soviet occupation as they settle into their adult lives in the 1940s, plagued by an oppressive regime and the tortuous demands of jealousy, deceit, and love. The translation has some rough spots, and the narrative can be heavier on history than humanity." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A wonderfully subtle thriller by one of Finland’s young emerging talents... captures both the tragic consequences of one of Europe’s biggest conflicts and the universal horrors that war inflicts on women... With a tone somewhere between Ian McEwan’s Atonement and the best of the current crop of European crime novelists, this bitter gem promises great things from the talented Oksansen. Kirkus
A riveting tale of two women struggling to survive in Soviet-occupied Estonia... Oksanen... keeps us turning pages to reach the dramatic conclusion. Verdict Highly recommended for fans of classic Russian writers like Tolstoy and Pasternak, as well as those who enjoy a contemporary tale of lust and betrayal. Library Journal
Purge is the first novel to win Finland's two most prestigious literary awards — the Finlandia and the Runeberg.
About the Author
Sofi Oksanen is a thirty-two-year-old Finnish-Estonian novelist and playwright. Purge is her first novel to appear in English, and the first novel to win Finland's two most prestigious literary awards, the Finlandia and the Runeberg.
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