Arto Paasilinna

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Arto Paasilinna
Color photo: Medium shot of Arto Paasilinna, sitting behind a table, speaking in a microphone.

October 2007 (aged 65), Helsinki Book Fair.
Born (1942-04-20) 20 April 1942 (age 72)
Kittilä, Lapland, Finland
Occupation journalist, novelist, poet
Citizenship Finland
Education Adult Education College, Lapland (1962-1963)
Period since 1972 (fiction)
since 1964 (non-fiction)
Genres picaresque, comedy, satire
Notable work(s) The Year of the Hare (1975)
Notable award(s)

Air Inter (France)
1989 The Year of the Hare
Acerbi (Italy)
1994 The Year of the Hare

UNESCO Collection
1994 The Year of the Hare

Relative(s) Erno Paasilinna (brother)
Reino Paasilinna (brother)

Arto Tapio Paasilinna[1] (born 20 April 1942 in Kittilä) is a Finnish writer, being a former journalist turned comic novelist. One of the most successful novelists of Finland,[2] he has won a broad readership outside of Finland[3] in a way few other Finnish authors have before.[2][4][5] Translated into 27[6] languages, over seven million[4] copies of his books have been sold worldwide, and he has been claimed as “instrumental in generating the current level of interest in books from Finland”.[5]

Paasilinna is best known[2] for his 1975 novel The Year of the Hare (Jäniksen vuosi), a best-seller in France and Finland,[7] translated into 18[3] languages, awarded three international prizes, and adapted twice into feature films.

Arto Paasilinna’s brothers are authors Erno Paasilinna, Reino Paasilinna and Mauri Paasilinna.



Arto Paasilinna[1] was born on 20 April 1942 in the Alakylä[citation needed] part of the municipality of Kittilä, in Lapland, Finland. His parents were Väinö Paasilinna (1902–1950, born Gullstén, changed his surname in 1934 after a family conflict) and Hilda-Maria Paasilinna (1908–1983, born Niva).[4] The Paasilinna’s had seven children, five sons and two daughters, including the writer Erno Paasilinna; the author, MEP and TV personality Reino Paasilinna; the painter Sirpa Paasilinna-Schlagenwarth; and the writer Mauri Paasilinna.[4]

Paasilinna studied at the General and Elementary School Line at the Lapland Folk Academy.[8] He initially worked as a journalist at Nuoren Voiman Liitto, Nuori Voima-lehti and various newspapers as writer and editor.[4] At the weekly magazine Apu, he was an editor (1968–1970) and later a columnist (1975–1988).[9]

In 1975, at the age of 33, Paasilinna found journalism growing “more superficial and meaningless” and desired a change;[10] that summer, he sold his boat to fund the writing of The Year of the Hare.[10] The book was an immediate success and from 1975 on Paasilinna became an independent writer[4][8] able to support himself with his novels, signed to Finnish publisher WSOY since 1977.[4] He still writes journalism articles and has been a columnist on Finnish radio.[10]

In 2000, Paasilinna was included[11] in the 6th edition of literary critic Pekka Tarkka(fi)‘s dictionary Suomalaisia nykykirjailijoita (“Finnish Literary Authors”, 1st ed. 1967).

In 2002, for Paasilinna’s 60th anniversary, journalist Eino Leino published a biography of Paasilinna called Lentojätkä. Arto Paasilinnan elämä” (“The Flight Dude”).[12]

The same year Paasilinna published his own autobiography called Yhdeksän unelmaa (“Nine Night’s Dream”).[4]

Health problems

In 2008 and 2009 while still living in Espoo, Paasilinna was featured in Finnish tabloids for his incoherent behaviour, including reckless driving.[13][14] In October 2009 he was rushed to a hospital due to a stroke. In April 2010 he was moved to a convalescent home for recovery, and his son named as his treasurer.[15]


Sepia photo: Face shot of Arto Paasilinna, speaking in a microphone.

Paasilinna in November 2007 (aged 65).

As of 2009, Paasilinna has published about 12 non-fiction books and 35 novels, with almost one novel each year from 1972 to 2009 (except 1973, 1978, 2002): as his publishers say, “The annual Paasilinna is as much an element of the Finnish autumn as falling birch leaves.”[2] He is “constantly being translated into new languages”,[16] and 18[3] of his books have been translated overall into at least 27[6] languages: the translations beyond neighboring Scandinavian countries include: 16 into German,[17] 11 into French,[18] 8 into Italian,[19] 6 into Dutch,[17] 5 into Spanish,[20] 4 into Korean,[21] and 2 into English, Ukrainian[22] and Catalan. Described as “The brightest star in the Finnish translated-literature firmament”[5] by Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, his success is claimed as having been “instrumental in generating the current level of interest in books from Finland”[5] by his publisher WSOY.

Paasilinna’s books reflect quite common Finnish life, usually from a middle-aged male perspective, and in rural Finland.[23] Fast-paced, light and humorous in style, many of these narratives can be described as picaresque[23] adventure stories with often a satirical angle towards modern life. Certain of his stories have been described as modern fables,[24] such as The Year of the Hare, which sets an ex-journalist’s quest for authentic life and values in the Finnish backwoods against the emptiness and meaninglessness of modern consumer society. Vatanen, the hero of this novel, takes an injured young hare with him on his quest, nursing the animal back to health, while his own dissatisfaction with his former urban lifestyle becomes ever more evident.

His 1974 novel Paratiisisaaren Vangit appears as Prisonniers du Paradis. This book is the humorous story of a UN charter that crashes on a deserted Pacific island. The passengers are lumberjacks and other forestry workers, midwives and nurses. As with The Year of the Hare (in French, Le lièvre de Vatanen), the narrator is a journalist. The multinational castaways (Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian and English) give Paasilinna ample opportunity to poke fun at issues of language domination and national stereotypes. The castaways set up a cashless society in which the only remuneration comes in the form of a cup of alcohol distilled in their jungle café in exchange for work for the collectivity. There is also a family planning clinic offering free IUDs. Soon, they find that they are not alone on the island and come up with a plan to get help.

Two of his novels, Lentävä kirvesmies and Rovasti Huuskosen petomainen miespalvelija were adapted to graphic novels by Hannu Lukkarinen.


In Finnish

Titles in quotes are indicative for untranslated books.


As of 2009, his 35 novels are:

  • 1972: Operaatio Finlandia (“Operation Finlandia”)
  • 1974: Paratiisisaaren vangit (“Prisoners of the Paradise Island”)
  • 1975: Jäniksen vuosi (tr. The Year of the Hare, 1995)
  • 1976: Onnellinen mies (“The Happy Man”)
  • 1977: Isoisää etsimässä (“Looking for Grandfather”)
  • 1979: Sotahevonen (“Warhorse”)
  • 1980: Herranen aika (“Goodness Gracious”)
  • 1981: Ulvova mylläri (tr. The Howling Miller, 2007)
  • 1982: Kultainen nousukas (“Golden Climber”)
  • 1983: Hirtettyjen kettujen metsä (“The Forest of the Hanged Foxes”)
  • 1984: Ukkosenjumalan poika (“The Son of the Thunder God”)
  • 1985: Parasjalkainen laivanvarustaja (“Bestfooted Shipwright”)
  • 1986: Vapahtaja Surunen (“Saviour Surunen”)
  • 1987: Koikkalainen kaukaa (“Koikkalainen from Far Away”)
  • 1988: Suloinen myrkynkeittäjä (“The Sweet Poison Cook”)
  • 1989: Auta armias (“Heaven Help Us”)
  • 1990: Hurmaava joukkoitsemurha (“A Charming Mass Suicide”)
  • 1991: Elämä lyhyt, Rytkönen pitkä (“Life Short, Rytkönen Long”)
  • 1992: Maailman paras kylä (“The Best Village in the World”)
  • 1993: Aatami ja Eeva (“Adam and Eve”)
  • 1994: Volomari Volotisen ensimmäinen vaimo ynnä muuta vanhaa tavaraa (“Volomari Volotinen’s First Wife and Assorted Other Old Items”)
  • 1995: Rovasti Huuskosen petomainen miespalvelija (“Reverend Huuskonen’s Beastly Manservant”)
  • 1996: Lentävä kirvesmies (“The Flying Carpenter”)
  • 1997: Tuomiopäivän aurinko nousee (“Doomsday’s Sun Rising”)
  • 1998: Hirttämättömien lurjusten yrttitarha (“The Herb Garden of the Unhanged Scoundrels”)
  • 1999: Hirnuva maailmanloppu (“Neighing End of the World”)
  • 2000: Ihmiskunnan loppulaukka (“Mankind’s Final Trot”)
  • 2001: Kymmenen riivinrautaa (“The Ten Shrews”)
  • 2003: Liikemies Liljeroosin ilmalaivat (“Airships of Businessman Liljeroos”)
  • 2004: Tohelo suojelusenkeli (“Goofy Guardian Angel”)
  • 2005: Suomalainen kärsäkirja (“Finnish Snoutbook”)
  • 2006: Kylmät hermot, kuuma veri (“Cold Nerves, Hot Blood”)
  • 2007: Rietas rukousmylly (“Lewd Prayermill”)
  • 2008: Neitosten karkuretki (“Runaway Trip of the Maidens”)
  • 2009: Elävänä omissa hautajaisissa (“Alive at His Own Funeral”)

His other books include:

  • 1964: Karhunkaataja Ikä-Alpi (“Ikä-Alpi, Bear Hunter”) – first book
  • 1971: Kansallinen vieraskirja, graffiitti eli vessakirjoituksia – toilet graffiti guide
  • 1984: Seitsemän saunahullua suomalaista (tr. Businessman’s Guide to the Finnish Sauna, 1984)
  • 1986: Kymmenen tuhatta vuotta (tr. Illustrated Episodes in a 10,000-year Odyssey: A Businessman’s Guide to Finnish History, 1986)
  • 1998: Hankien tarinoita (tr. Tales of the Snowfields: Finnish Skiing Through the Ages, 1998)
  • 2002: Yhdeksän unelmaa (“Nine Night’s Dreams”) – autobiography
  • 2003: Sadan vuoden savotta (“One Hundred Years of Logging”) – history of Finnish logging

In English

As of 2009:[25]

  • 1984: Businessman’s Guide to the Finnish Sauna (Seitsemän saunahullua suomalaista, 1984)
  • 1986: Illustrated Episodes in a 10,000-year Odyssey: A Businessman’s Guide to Finnish History (Kymmenen tuhatta vuotta, 1986)
  • 1998: Tales of the Snowfields: Finnish Skiing Through the Ages (Hankien tarinoita, 1998)


Many books have been adapted into movies (some dubbed into English), including:[27]


  1. ^ a b Finnish pronunciation: [ˈɑ ˈpɑː.si.ˈlin.nɑ]), approximately “AR-toh PAAH-sea-LEAN-nah”.
  2. ^ a b c d “Arto Paasilinna”. Archived from the original on 2007-10-13. exVirtual Finland, 2007 Archived at Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ a b c WSOY 2009.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Kuusela 2008.
  5. ^ a b c d Petäjä 2006.
  6. ^ a b WSOY 2009: Paasilinna is translated in 27 languages, being Albanian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Ersän, Estonian, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuan, Mokshan, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish.
  7. ^ The Year of the Hare (tr. Herbert Lomas), London: Peter Ownes Publishers, 1995, back-cover notes.
  8. ^ a b MFW 2008, Biography.
  9. ^ From fi:Apu (lehti) and its translation at Apu (magazine).
  10. ^ a b c Polojärvi 1999.
  11. ^ Schoolfield, George C. (2001), “Suomalaisia nykykirjailijoita”, World Literature Today (via Article Archives, JavaScript required),, 22 June 2001, p. 2.
  12. ^ Edico Oy page about Arto Paasilinna’s productions in Finnish Edico Oy page about Arto Paasilinna’s productions translated from Finnish to English by
  13. ^ “Arto Paasilinna kolaroi rajusti – ajoi moottoritietä väärään suuntaan”. Ilta-Sanomat (in Finnish). WSOY. 2008-07-19. Retrieved 27 April 2010. 
  14. ^ “Kirjailija Arto Paasilinna sai isot sakot kolaroinnistaan” (in Finnish). Kaleva. 2009-03-13. Retrieved 27 April 2010. 
  15. ^ “Arto Paasilinnan poika määrää rahoista” (in Finnish). Aamulehti. 2010-04-23. Retrieved 27 April 2010. 
  16. ^ FILI 2008.
  17. ^ a b de:Arto Paasilinna
  18. ^ Available in the Folio paperback series
  19. ^ it:Arto Paasilinna
  20. ^ es:Arto Paasilinna
  21. ^ Arto Paasilinna in Korean at WorldCat.
  22. ^
  23. ^ a b Binder 2002.
  24. ^ *For Year of the Hare, from Publishers Weekly: “A man abandons his conventional life and hits the road with a hare in this offbeat picaresque fable.” 1996 [1]
    • For The Howling Miller “It is also a fable about the eternal struggle between freedom and repressive authority.”[2]
  25. ^ MFW 2008, Translated work.
  26. ^ Translated from the 1991 French translation [3][4] (by Anne Colin du Terrail, from Finnish).
  27. ^ Arto Paasilinna at IMDb


External links

Reviews in English of untranslated books

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Arto Paasilinna, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.