The Howling Miller by Arto Paasilinna

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Synopsis

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.
 

About Arto Paasilinna

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Arto Paasilinna was born on April 20, 1942 in the Alakylä part of the municipality of Kittilä, in Lapland, Finland. Arto Paasilinna studied at the General and Elementary School Line at the Lapland Folk Academy. He initially worked as a journalist at Nuoren Voiman Liitto, Nuori Voima-lehti and various newspapers as writer and editor. At the weekly magazine Apu, he was an editor from 1968 - 1970 and later a columnist from 1975 - 1988. In 1975 he wrote The Year of the Hare in response to his feeling that journalism was becoming superficial and meaningless. The book was an immediate success and from 1975 on Paasilinna became an independent writer. He still writes journalism articles and has been a columnist on Finnish radio. In 2002, for Paasilinna's 60th anniversary, journalist Eino Leino published a biography of Paasilinna called Lentojätkä. Arto Paasilinnan elämä" ("The Flight Dude"). The same year Paasilinna published his own autobiography called Yhdeksän unelmaa ("Nine Night's Dream"). As of 2009, Paasilinna has published about 12 non-fiction books and 35 novels, with almost one novel each year from 1972 to 2009. Paasilinna's books reflect quite common Finnish life, usually from a middle-aged male perspective, and in rural Finland. His title Year of the Hare made the New York Times Best Seller list for 2011.
 
Published June 14, 2007 by Canongate Books Ltd. 288 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Howling Miller

Kirkus Reviews

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The second novel to be translated into English by popular Finnish novelist Paasilinna; hopefully this sly tale of madness and conformity will generate for him a deservedly wider audience.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of The Howling Miller

The New York Times

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A wry Finnish novel about a man who cries (like a) wolf.

Dec 28 2008 | Read Full Review of The Howling Miller

The Guardian

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But Paasilinna directs most ire at the local dignitaries who are the miller's "persecutors, his hunters and his jailers" - from the bank manager who freezes his account and the police chief who calls in the light infantry, to the doctor who certifies the miller for taking a naturalist's interest ...

Jul 13 2007 | Read Full Review of The Howling Miller

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Oct 29 2008 | Read Full Review of The Howling Miller

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