Synopses & Reviews
From an award-winning European writer, a Gothic page-turner with all the menace and promise of a fairy tale
In the aftermath of a revolution that has plunged her country into chaos, thirteen-year-old Emma’s small corner of the world is shattered after her dissident parents' death in a car crash. Before she can make sense of her new circumstances, an older woman arrives to claim her, alleging to be her grandmother. When the two travel to what will be her new home in a distant town, Emma is mystified by her guardian, a woman who can read fortunes in coffee dregs, inflict and heal pain at will, and even control the minds of her enemies; she also shares her home with the ghost of her dead husband. But Emma soon learns that there are other reasons her grandmother is treated as an outcast by her neighbors. Like a witch’s apprentice, Emma learns to accept the logic of her grandmother's secluded life, and as she uncovers the older woman's story—from the traumas of the Second World War to the Holocaust and the reeducation camps of the communist system—Emma comes to see that sometimes a reality shaped by magic is the only means of finding freedom in the face of terror, manipulation, and fear. In The Bone Fire, Hungary's literary star introduces an indelible young heroine, weaving together old-world mysticism and contemporary politics to uncover the soul of a war-scarred land and its people.
"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
"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)
Purge is the first novel to win Finland's two most prestigious literary awards — the Finlandia and the Runeberg.
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.
From an award-winning and internationally acclaimed European writer, a chilling and suspenseful story set in the wake of a violent revolution, about a young girl rescued from an orphanage by an otherworldly grandmother she’s never met
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.