The story of three days spent trying to catch a fish while fooled and foiled by an assortment of primeval nature beings.
Author: Juhani Karila
Finnish original: Pienen hauen pyydystys
Publisher: Siltala Publishing, 2019
Genre: literary fiction
Number of pages: c. 250 pp.
Reading material: Finnish original, English sample, English synopsis
Rights sold: Denmark, Jensen & Dalgaard; World French, La Peuplade; Hungary, Metropolis Media; Poland, Marpress
Elina Ylijaako has returned to her home village in Eastern Lapland, as she does every year. She has three days to catch a pike. When a water sprite emerges from the pond and other ancient creatures soon join the game, Elina’s fishing trip turns into a life-or death adventure.
Meanwhile a police sergeant named Janatuinen is searching for Elina on suspicion of murder. But first the sergeant has to survive a fishing trip of her own with a local forest imp and make it through throng night – a carnival of the dead that even the most hard-blooded witch in the village knows to avoid.
Mysterious creatures wander the tundra bogs like machines set in motion long ago that nobody knows how to turn off. An ancient demon finds a new home in the mayor. A farm hand who refuses to die starts sprouting branches and oozing menace. And in a little pond in the middle of the swamp lives the fish that everything depends on.
Fishing for the Little Pike is a linguistically virtuosic novel, at once love story and mythical fantasy, that will make you choke with laughter one minute and turn deadly serious the next.
“Karila’s magnificient novel is original, realistic fantasy with a Lapland twist. The core of the novel is the Eastern Lappi dialect, and the story’s ecophilosophical worldview deepens from the landscape, the description of which is Finnish prose as its best.”
– Jury statement for the Kalevi Jäntti’s Prize for young authors 2019
“The novel, peppered with small side stories, delights with the avalanche of mythical creatures, but even better is the gently ironic description of local people. The dialectal language of the colourful characters and their balmy reactions to what happens paint a picture of a worldview where even the most fanciful things are taken as they are.”
– Helsingin Sanomat newspaper
“Seasoned with several additional storylines and all kinds of mythical creatures, this rich novel is a delight; even better, however, is a warmly ironic portrayal of the locals. Nothing bewilders these colourful characters, even the most unbelievable, odd things are perceived as an everyday given.”
– Helsingin Sanomat newspaper
“This son of Lapland has truly hit a bull’s-eye; as someone who has a teacher’s mentality, I feel like giving him 6 stars out of 5 – and this is exactly what I will do. Juhani Karila stretches the limits and borders of the normative world so wildly, that it only seems appropriate for the literature critic to do the same. Karila writes world literature in a carnavalesque spirit of Rabelais and with Don Quijote type of characters – only he digs even deeper.”
– Jussi Leinonen, Lapin Kansa newspaper
“In Fishing for the Little Pike, the first novel from Juhani Karila who has previously distinguished himself as short-stories’ writer, the author cooks up such a fix of love story and thriller, realism and fantasy, folk comedy and all sorts of popular beliefs that it should remedy the worst case of humorlessness. Kalevi Jäntti’s prize was delivered to the right address.“
– Raijan kirjareppu book blog
“Fishing for the Little Pike is like a love child of Tommi Liimata’s, Mikko-Pekka Heikkinen’s and Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen’s works. It is a witty, clever, interesting and addictive novel about the magical land of Lapland where things are unlike anywhere else. For me personally, this book is one of the grand highlights of 2019 (…)”
– Kirjavinkit book blog
“I wouldn’t be able to describe what genre is this absurd, unbridled fantasy comedy (or fairytale) – and it doesn’t matter. Nor would I be able to tell, how much Karila draws from real Lappish beliefs and myths, and how much of it is pure imagination; in any case, it is amusing and delightful to read. (…) Karila’s imagination is beyond words! The story is wild, absurd and crazy funny, written in a brilliant language and charged with a great sense of humor.”
– Kirja vieköön book blog
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