About the author
Kari Hotakainen was born in Pori and has been living in Helsinki since 1986. He has worked as a reporter and in advertising and made his debut as a poet in 1982. Kari Hotakainen became a full-time writer in 1996 and was awarded the Finlandia Prize for Juoksuhaudantie in 2002. His works have been translated into German, Czech, Slovakian, Estonian and Swedish.
About the winning piece
Juoksuhaudantie comes from a street sign in the residential neighbourhood Pakila outside Helsinki. The purchase of his own home marked the beginning of the novel. Kari Hotakainen had visited more than 40 house showings and collected materials from all brochures handed out. Matti Virtanen, the protagonist of the novel, has lost his family after a divorce. He is a manic outsider and idealist, a stranger in his time. With a pair of binoculars around his neck, he goes on a residential neighbourhood safari as if he were on an African savannah. The modern lower middle class, which is as sad as it is shabby, is examined and shown up. His satire depicts a society where anti-smokers have turned Fascists and home owners seem to spend most of their energy on the lawn. Feeling self-righteous, they enjoy their grilled meat and see all things strange as a threat.
Published by: WSOY publishing company
Publication year: 2002
This is what the Adjudicating Committee had to say
Kari Hotakainen is awarded the Nordic Council Literature Prize for his socially critical and structurally aware novel. It depicts the dissolution of the Nordic welfare state, parodies and ironises the age it is set in and, in particular, traditional male gender roles.