Markus Nummi: Karkkipäivä [Candy day]
Helsinki: Otava, 2010. 383 p.
Like this one, Markus Nummi’s previous novel, Kiinalainen puutarha (‘Chinese garden’, 2004), set in Asia at the turn of the 20th century, involves a child’s perspective. Karkkipäivä‘s main theme, however, is a portrait of contemporary Finland. Tomi is a little boy whose alcoholic parents are incapable of looking after him; Mirja’s mother is a frantic workaholic heading for a nervous breakdown. She is a control freak who secretly gorges on chocolate at work and beats her little daughter – a grotesque portrait of contemporary womanhood. Tomi manages to get some adult attention and help from a writer; the relation between them gradually builds into one of trust. Katri is a social worker, empathetic but virtually helpless as part of the social services bureaucracy. Virtually every adult suspects others of lying, finding each other’s motives doubtful. Nummi (born 1959) has structured Karkkipäivä with great skill; the ending, in which matters are resolved almost by chance, is particularly gripping. This novel was nominated for the 2010 Finlandia Prize for Fiction.
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