Jacobsen, Roy "The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles" (Hoggerne) - 2005
It says in the description: "'The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles' is not a novel about war, but about the lives of ordinary people dragged into war." True. I think that's what makes this novel so interesting. I know little about Finland during the war. I guess if you're not Finnish, the same goes for you. We know about Norway and Denmark being occupied, Poland being invaded, we know about the battles between the Germans and the Russians, the Baltic countries but very little is often said about Finland during the war even though they had two big fights with the Russians, tee Winter War in 1939/40 and in the Continuation War in 1941/44, so more or less during most of the war. Probably because very little often is said about Finland in general.
Timo is a woodcutter who lives in Suomussalmi and is asked to leave his village in 1939 together with the rest of the inhabitants. But he resists. He is the only one who doesn't obey, he doesn't burn down his house and stays.
When the Soviet soldiers arrive, he is the only one available to show them how to survive the harsh winter.
Even though Timo is not exactly known for his intelligence, to say the least (on the contrary, he is regarded as the village idiot), he is a brave character, someone born to survive. He tells the story, you can feel his determination not to give in, not to the Finnish order, not to the Soviets. He is Timo and he is the only one who gives him orders. He is one of the small heroes, those we don't hear about but without whom humanity would not survive.
A good book that gives you a lot to thin k about.
From the back cover:
"Set in Finland in 1939, this is the story of one man who remains in his home town when everyone else has fled, burning down their houses in their wake, before the invading Russians arrive.
Timo remains behind because he can't imagine life anywhere else, doing anything else besides felling the trees near his home. This is a novel about belonging - a tale of powerful and forbidden friendships forged during a war, of unexpected bravery and astonishing survival instincts.
'The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles' is not a novel about war, but about the lives of ordinary people dragged into war, each of whom only wants to find the path back home.
Roy Jacobsen uses the dramatic natural landscape of light and darkness, fire-blazing heat and life-robbing cold to spectacular effect."