Sofi Oksanen: Puhdistus [Purge]
5 February 2009 | Mini reviews
Helsinki: WSOY, 2008. 380 p.
€ 29.90, paperback
Sofi Oksanen’s first play Puhdistus (‘Purge’) was staged at Finland’s National Theatre in 2007. Oksanen (born 1977) has an Estonian-Finnish background and studied at the Theatre Academy. Puhdistus, her third novel, retells the story of her play about two women and moves through the past by flashbacks between 1939 and 1992. Aliide has experienced the horrors of the Stalin era and the deportation of Estonians to Siberia, but she herself has to cope with the guilt of opportunism and even manslaughter. One night in 1992 she finds a young woman in the courtyard of her house; Zara has just escaped from the claws of the Russian mafia who held her as a sex slave. Aliide later finds out that the girl is related to her. The women’s experiences as victims of social and brutal sexual oppression as well as their own actions are linked with opportunistic despair and fatally entwined with violence. Oksanen’s sombre narrative is written in a richly detailed and eidetic style.