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(Cover of The Human Part)

The Human Part

Hotakainen, Kari

A fearlessly tragic and deeply humorous novel about how, now more than ever, we buy and sell things - with rhetorics. This is Kari Hotakainen at the top of his craft.

A writer buys a life from Salme Malmikunnas, an 80-year-old former yarn seller. You can get a lot for 7000 euros. Salme opens up and tells him everything the way she wants to remember it – the silence of her husband, Paavo, the accident that befell her daughter Helena, Maija’s marriage, and Pekka’s success in business. But will the author tell the story like they’d agreed? Can he resist the urge to write about subjects that are off limits? And is Salme telling the truth?

True to its title, the novel asks what the human lot is. Its rich cast of characters answers this question in many voices. The novel takes the pulse of the present and builds on the past to portray a world where buying and selling are the order of the day. It sheds light on eternal truths about working life, both then and now. More than anything else, it’s talk that makes business run today. Instead of things like yarn, we now sell images. And when the words run out, it’s time for action.

Hotakainen is a prolific writer, but he has never produced anything quite like this. The Human Lot is a rich, wide-ranging novel full of honest wisdom. It’s disarmingly moving and deeply humorous. The novel fearlessly grapples with today’s world and tries to understand it. That’s not possible without laughter. Or tears.


Praise for the Work

“Hotakainen is a skilled storyteller whose works are full of understated surprises. His humour is intelligent, transporting the reader from laughter to tears. Hotakainen’s books are not meant to be mindlessly devoured – but demand to be read in one sitting.”
Savon Sanomat, 2009

“Aesthetically, The Human Lot is one of Hotakainen’s most complete works. Chapter by chapter, he builds his ideas about society like a jigsaw puzzle. Grotesque effects occasionally echo the author’s keen interpretations of the waning of hope and quality of life among modern Finns.”
Satakunnan Kansa, 2009

“Hotakainen delights in language and makes your shoulders shake with laughter.”
Aamulehti, 2009

“Definitely one of the author’s best books.”
Helsingin Sanomat, 2009

“The undoubted pinnacle of Hotakainen’s oeuvre […], a sharp, incisive depiction of the age. Hotakainen, who has a reputation for being something of a funny man, is an angry, clenched moral fist.” Antti Majander, Helsingin Sanomat, 2009

“Hotakainen is a skilful storyteller, a writer full of inexplicable surprises. His humour is intelligent and takes the reader from laughter to tears and back again. One shouldn’t devour his work, though this novel really has to read in one sitting.” Ritva Kolehmainen, Savon Sanomat

“This novel is a stylistically straightforward, dark tale of the delusions of affluence that wash the characters away. […] Aesthetically, The human lot is one of the Hotakainen’s most flawless works. Thoughts and musings on society are constructed piece by piece, chapter after chapter.” Jari O. Hiltunen, Satakunnan Kansa

"A humane, disconcerting and pleasurable text. In other words, it is a truly beautiful novel." Le Monde

"A beautifully crafted tale of bereavement, intimate human suffering and the curious specks of reparation that death can bring ... this is a simply stunning book. Fans of Mark Haddon and Haruki Murakami will be enraptured." Time Out

"A novel packed with sophisticated ideas which should, like a rare delicacy, be savoured slowly." Tribune

"quaint and quirky book." Irish Times

"...beautifully-written, in an excellent translation that manages to lose none of the subtleties that give the story its sense of ambiguity – a sense that should give every reader a slightly different experience. A beautiful package that won’t disappoint on any level, it will leave the reader – as it has me – pining for translations of Hotakainen’s back catalogue as soon as possible. - Readerdad

"...the thing that makes this book so good is the perfect balance Hotakainen strikes between humour and gravitas. I devoured it and found it quite unexpectedly moving." - The Lady Loves Books

"La Part de l’homme n’a pas été écrit dans le but de divertir, et pourtant le roman parvient également à remplir cette fonction." - Courrier International

"Ce roman évoque avec finesse un pays qui a changé sans demander l'avis de ses habitants". - Courrier International

"The dialogue is razor sharp..." - Svenska Dagbladet


Prix du Courrier International, France (Best European novel), France 2011
Prix Coup de Coeur (Prix des Jeunes Européens), France 2012
Runeberg Prize, Finland 2010

Rights Sold

Czech (Dybbuk)
Danish (Gyldendal)
Swedish (Brombergs)
French (J.C. Lattes)
Norwegian (Cappelen)
Italian (Iperborea)
Spanish (Meettok)
English (Maclehose Press)
Hungarian (Libri)
Slovenian (Sodobnost International)


Reading Material

Finnish edition
French edition
English edition
Italian edition
Swedish edition
Spanish edition
Slovenian edition
Hungarian edition

ISBN: 978-952-234-021-4
Size: 138 mm x 214 mm

See other books from this author:

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(Cover of Finnhits)
(Cover of St Isaac's Cathedral)
(Cover of The Careless)
(Cover of The Trench Road)
(Cover of The Word of God)

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The Human Part