Jari Tervo: Koljatti [Goliath]

23 October 2009 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Helsinki: WSOY, 2009. 317 p.
ISBN 978-951-0-35610-4
25 €, hardback

Jari Tervo (born 1959)  writes comic, swiftly paced, linguistically accomplished prose with touches of historicism, philosophy and social commentary. Koljatti is a contemporary satire that prompted a great deal of fuss in the Finnish press for its perceived nastiness: the similarities between its character Pekka Lahnanen, an isolated and beleaguered prime minister, and Matti Vanhanen, the current Finnish Prime Minister, are clear. This novel outlines some crude caricatures, but its critical barbs are aimed not at politics, but rather at the relationship between the media and politics. This book, which describes the events of a single fast-paced weekend, portrays politics as theatre, in which the only thing that matters is how things appear; the media will drop any substantive questions in their relentless pursuit of new sensationalist headlines of politicians’ private lives. The news may not look the same after reading this novel. Tervo is one of Finland’s most popular authors; three of his novels have appeared in translation, in four languages. [Read a short story here.]


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