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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction



Maailman paras kylä

by
Arto Paasilinna


general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author



Title: Maailman paras kylä
Author: Arto Paasilinna
Genre: Novel
Written: 1992
Length: 317 pages
Original in: Finnish
Availability: Nördlich des Weltuntergangs - Deutschland
  • Maailman paras kylä has not been translated into English

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Our Assessment:

B : some enjoyable episodes, but not daring enough ; very lite fare

See our review for fuller assessment.




Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
World Lit. Today . Spring/1993 Margareta Martin


  From the Reviews:
  • "The story proceeds rather slowly. The building of the church and other exploits are described in meticulous detail, and the characters deal with the usual human problems such as love, hate, and greed. Maailman paras kyla is basically a parody of a Utopia. The tale is told as if it were full of excitement, and the names chosen for the characters are quaint and backwoodsy; the humor is obvious to Finns but probably not to non-Finns. Paasilinna's book is an easy read, but a sophisticated reader may be bored." - Margareta Martin, World Literature Today

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Maailman paras kylä covers a span of about three decades, from the warly 1990s (when it was written) through 2023. It begins with the death of Asser Toropainen, a bit short of his hundredth birthday. A die-hard communist whose hobby was torching churches, his will sees for a measure of atonement: he instructs his grandson, Eemeli, to build a church on some land that is to be owned by a private foundation set up according to the will.
       Asser isn't too specific, allowing Eemeli very free rein. Recently bankrupted and divorced, Eemeli finds the project in northern Finland a good works-project for himself and many of his former employees. The church that is built -- modeled on a classic design -- is simply a building for a while, but slowly a community develops on the property, and eventually the church is consecrated. The authorities are largely ignored or actively opposed: the taxman should get his cut and the planning department and the official church should be giving their official stamp of approval for all these projects, but Eemeli and his cohorts have little patience for them and at best grudgingly throw them a few crumbs.
       Maailman paras kylä is a curious utopian vision: on the one hand Paasilinna shows a deeply reactionary bent. Communism is constantly ridiculed, and the centre of this community is definitely the church (though Eemeli, for one, also doesn't care much for organised religion). On the other hand, this community is the ultimate one of each person doing according to his ability -- a Marxist idyll, in fact. (It helps matters that, for the most part, this commune proves to be a land of plenty, especially as the rest of the world is going to the dogs.)
       What does help keep the satire sharp is Paasilinna's complete lack of respect for governmental authority and bureaucracy, making for quite a few enjoyable episodes.
       The thirty-year adventure moves along at a quick trot -- though often lingering on details that don't seem that significant --, with episodes ranging from Eemeli getting incarcerated in Denmark for three years, the collapse of Russia, and then World War III. Eemeli suffers several heart attacks (leading to a hair- (but first bear-) raising bypass operation), New York sinks in its own garbage, and some American doctors want to use the place as an organ farming hospital. Among the many over the top occurrences: a hydrogen bomb falls into their laps ..... Unfortunately, Paasilinna just barrels ahead: he has a nice touch with the simple episodes, many of which are very funny, but with the world collapsing around them the book ultimately is too much surface (skimming along there) and too little depth.
       Paasilinna is a good storyteller, but he takes it too easy here, stuffing too much in and going off in all directions. It makes for enjoyable lite fare but, unfortunately, not enough more.

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Links:

Reviews: Arto Paasilinna: Other books by Arto Paasilinna under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Prolific author Arto Paasilinna was born in 1942. One of the most popular authors in Finland, his work has been widely translated.

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