The writing of Juha Vakkuri has never really belonged in the same category as Finnish agrarian prose or the tradition of prosaic realism. Vakkuri’s novels do, indeed, describe Finland and the country’s slow processes of change, but the changes are mirrored in other parts of the world: Europe, Africa and often elsewhere.
Vakkuri (born 1946) is head of programmes at the Finnish Broadcasting Company, and he has also worked as a development worker in Africa. His work on development projects and in the media appears in his novels as a jigsaw whose pieces, as they fit together, reveal to the reader a corner of the global village. Perhaps the clearest and, in the opinion of some critics, the best of Vakkuri’s international Finnish novels is Paratiisitango (‘Paradise tango’, 1993). In it, Vakkuri deals with situations familiar from the media world, in which the central problem is the conflict between power and morality. The book contains many frauds and their disclosures: nothing is as it seems. People who consider themselves moral commit crimes, and a victim of terrorism turns out himself to be a terrorist. Everything belongs to one and the same world, which the media both describe and conceal. More…
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