The Thousand & One
The Thousand & One (2022)
Translated by David Hackston
An anonymous narrator retreats to Eastern Finland to read the works of a Polish survivor of the gulag. Would he provide an answer to one's own family, with whom the narrator has fallen into disrepair because of a "migration issue"?
The work never begins. The narrator leaves for Italy to meet an old friend who has encountered an Ethiopian refugee. In the search for him, friends who have abandoned academic philosophy are debating, speaking, and timing — and will have shown Europe’s ongoing catastrophe and state of emergency, for which a scapegoat has once again been found.
Kari Hukkila's first novel The Thousand and One is a touching and harsh work on the borders of the world and the watchtowers erected on them. Does the power of thought oppose them? Both Uukuniemi and Rome are suitable places for thinking, Wittgenstein's cottage, the Red Cross's relief convoy, ants stinging birch stalks as well as the power of citizens to walk their own paths.
If Hukkila's ferocious narrative is reminiscent of writers like Sebald and Bernhard, it remains distinctly his own.