Kari Hotakainen's photo.

© Laura Malmivaara

Cover of the book.

Kari Hotakainen: Disciple

Another powerful book here. Disciple by Kari Hotakainen is dark and fiery, a story about alienation and revenge — but always about seeking connection, as well. The story begins with Maria, a 30-year-old ex-mechanic who’s been severely marginalized in her life. She’s running out of options, and resorts to drastic measures when she violently kidnaps three people and takes them where she used to work, a now-abandoned gas station.

Maria’s arc starts with childhood abandonment in foster care; she wants to punish others for not living honestly. Her victims are all conceited in some way: like the restaurant critic who hates those who’re too poor to eat, and the actor full of jargon and hot air. Maria spouts Biblical verse monologues and fancies herself a sort of ”beacon of truth”, and an inquisitor who wants to judge wrong-doers for their sins.

Hotakainen is a master of tension and atmosphere, and Disciple is thrilling all the way through. His language is sparse and even poetic, which stands to reason since he started his literary career in poetry some 40 years ago. This is also a book that’ll hopefully shock you into rethinking a lot of problematic values in society. It’s an all-round great work of fiction!

Original title: Opetuslapsi. Siltala 2022, 271 pp.
Foreign rights: Helsinki Literary Agency, helsinkiagency.fi