Books

Canongate U.S.
Canongate U.S.
Canongate U.S.

The Howling Miller

by Arto Paasilinna

“The narrative, with its episodic chapters and fablelike tone, follows Huttunen’s interactions with an amused eye . . . Paasilinna describes the frenetic inner workings of his characters’ minds with an expert touch . . . It is Paasilinna’s gift in this gem of a novel to wring humor from the most desperate circumstances.” —New York Times Book Review

  • Imprint Canongate U.S.
  • Page Count 288
  • Publication Date October 02, 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-1-8476-7181-3
  • Dimensions 5.13" x 7.75"
  • US List Price $14.00

About The Book

Admired as one of Europe’s more enduringly popular writers, Arto Paasilinna produces what Marie Claire (UK) calls “a fun and enjoyably light-hearted read with food for thought.”

Arriving in Northern Finland after the Second World War, Gunnar Huttunen buys a dilapidated mill on the Suukoski rapids of the Kemijoki River. An Ignatius Reilly of the Finnish 1940s, Gunnar is an eccentric outsider swimming against society’s current. Prone to rapid mood swings and a general lack of decorum, he is feared and reviled by village notables for his wayward manner—most noticeably his indulgent nighttime howling, which he gets up to when he “feels the need to do something special,” and to which he is joined in delirious chorus by the local dogs.

The miller’s situation rapidly spirals out of control. Gunnar is cast out of society, the villagers become his jailors, and the forest his prison. A miller without a mill, Gunnar is forced to assume a hermit’s lifestyle. At once a tale of conformity and the consequences of its antithesis, The Howling Miller paints a crystalline portrait of society, its norms, and what it means to function outside of them. This is a tour de force tale told with verve, humor, and a sense of the bizarre.

Tags Literary

Praise

The Howling Miller has feel of an ominous Hansel and Gretel-style bedtime story—part myth, part fable and part novel—a form that has a funny way of bypassing the head and directly affecting the animal instincts.” —Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times

“[A] sly tale of madness and conformity . . . [Gunnar Huttunen] is a picaresque hero . . . Paasilinna has much fun in defining this bourgeois society, an ill, repressed culture in opposition to Gunnar’s heroic independence . . . There is much to like here—wit, pathos and just enough of the extraordinary to transform the novel into a kind of modern fable.” —Kirkus Reviews

“[Paasilinna] illustrates the cost of nonconformity with his trademark subtle humor in this playful fable . . . Recommended for readers interested in folktales and/or Finland.” —Library Journal

“The narrative, with its episodic chapters and fablelike tone, follows Huttunen’s interactions with an amused eye . . . Paasilinna describes the frenetic inner workings of his characters’ minds with an expert touch . . . It is Paasilinna’s gift in this gem of a novel to wring humor from the most desperate circumstances.” —New York Times Book Review

“Here’s an unusual and delightful novel with all the fierce independence, drier-than-dry humor and grumpy good-heartedness that are quintessentially Finn, packed with dozens of great scenes, including how to get your savings out of the bank with a shotgun. . . . Writing with deadpan starkness and a mythic simplicity, Paasilinna propels the reader forward on a lean narrative line that almost defies you to try to stop reading. You’re too busy chuckling as you anxiously turn the pages, concerned about a lovable eccentric who seems to have stepped straight out of legend and to be heading straight for hell. . . . This fearless and defiant little novel builds to an uncompromising, utterly unexpected and completely satisfying end.” —Nick DiMartino, Shelf Awareness

“This is a lucid, humorous miracle of a book. . . . The Howling Miller is at once a philosophical tale, a fantasy story, a moral fable, and a wonderful novel that has fun in disturbing us, in jostling us, in howling in our ears the truths of so-called human nature that we generally prefer to ignore.” —Michele Gazier, Livres