WHO: Sofi Oksanen
WHAT: WHEN THE DOVES DISAPPEARED, a novel
WHEN: Published by Knopf February 12, 2015
WHERE: The story is set in Estonia.
WHY: “Powerful fiction that stirs history, war crimes, and psychology into a compelling mix.
“In meticulously precise prose, Finnish Estonian novelist Oksanen exposes the craven nature of oppression in Estonia during two time periods, first by German invaders in 1941, then by Communists in 1963.
“Three characters—fierce resistance fighter Roland; supreme opportunist Edgar; and Edgar’s hapless wife, Juudit—are each forced to make life-altering decisions under desperate circumstances. Roland has always yearned for an independent Estonia and deserts the Red Army to mobilize for freedom. He knows that his cousin Edgar is a braggart inclined to stretch the truth, but he is shocked to learn that Edgar has abandoned his wife and become a loyal supporter of the Nazi regime. Twenty years later, though, Edgar has managed to cover up his background and become a Soviet apparatchik, writing a completely fabricated, devious history of Estonians who collaborated with the Nazis.
“Oksanen captures both the futility of the citizens of a tiny country who yearn for freedom and the dark heart of an opportunist who would sell out his own family in order to survive.”
—Joanne Wilkinson, in a starred review for BOOKLIST
“Highly recommended. Oksanen depicts civilian life in wartime and under communist oppression in rich historical detail, skillfully manipulating chronology and threading clues subtly throughout the narrative as suspense builds.”
—Reba Leiding, in a starred review for LIBRARY JOURNAL
“Fascinating.” —KIRKUS REVIEWS
From the beginning of the book:
We went to Rosalie’s grave one last time and placed some wildflowers on the grassy moonlit mound. We were silent for a moment with the blooms between us. I didn’t want to let Juudit go, which is why I said out loud what a person shouldn’t say in that situation: “We’ll never see each other again.”
I could hear the gravel in my voice, and it brought a gleam of water to her eyes, that gleam that had often knocked me off balance, welling up and sending my rational mind lightly afloat, like a bark boat. Rocking on a stream that flowed from her eyes. Maybe I spoke bluntly to dull my own pain, maybe I just wanted to be cruel so that when she’d left she could curse me and my callousness, or maybe I yearned for some final declaration, for her to say she didn’t want to leave. I was still uncertain of the movements of her heart, even after all we’d been through together.
Translated from the Finnish by Lola Rogers.
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Erinn Hartman | 212-572-2345 | email@example.com