I’m a bit more than half way through Sofi Oksanen’s extraordinary novel, Purge, and wanted to jot down a few impressions before doing a complete review later. Ms. Oksanen is a young Finnish-Estonian writer, born in 1977. Purge is her third novel, and grew out of her original play of the same title (“Puhdistus”). Deceptively simple in style and structure, it’s a wonderful example of the power that art has to make us see the universal in the particular. In the details of family life, in the interaction between sisters, in the struggles of one small town, we see the wild swings of history. We see the violent shifts in power alignments. A family drama points us to the drama of time and the chaotic march of humanity.
So far, the book has concentrated primarily on the 30s, 40s, and early 90s. An Estonia ravaged by West and East. Minds ravaged by fateful decisions made generations ago. Oksanen writes with an old soul and directness about a way of life that is quickly disappearing from the planet. Her characters make their own soap, grow most of their own food, can everything in sight, and do this while the world around them is falling apart.
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On our Front Page, we’ve added new poetry by Alan Britt: Love Poem That Leads me
To a Florida Canal.