Jari Tervo: Layla

28 October 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Helsinki: WSOY, 2011. 361 p.
ISBN 978-951-0-38277-6
31 €, hardback

Social reality has stepped firmly into contemporary Finnish literature. Many of the new novels deal with economic inequality, immigration, prostitution or human trafficking. In his 13th novel Jari Tervo (born 1959) deals with them all. Layla is a young Kurdish girl whose cruel fate is about to be decided by the men of her family in Turkey. When she flees, Layla ends up in faraway Finland as a prostitute. Another storyline portrays a Finnish woman, Helena, who sells herself in part voluntarily. Tervo shows himself to be a feminist; the men he describes are cold tyrants who see a woman’s body as an object of lust and as merchandise. The novel is tragic and defiant, but also amusing and lively. Tervo’s style involves surprises and ingenious tricks, of which towards the end of the book there are slightly too many. Layla contains a good deal of information about Turkey, Kurdish culture and the people smuggling that takes place on the outer borders of the European Union. Some of the details have already been shown to be inaccurate, but this does not reduce the distressing quality of this story of a human fate.
Translated by David McDuff


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