The Last of the Vostyachs
Author: Diego Marani
Translator: Judith Landry
Original language: Italian
Published by: Dedalus Books, 2012
The author of New Finnish Grammar returns with another brilliant offering.
As a child, Ivan and his father worked as forced labourers in a mine in Siberia, the father having committed some minor offence against the regime. He is then murdered in front of his young son, after which Ivan – who is a Vostyak, an imaginary ethnic group of whose language he is the last remaining speaker – is struck dumb by having witnessed his father’s murder. Some twenty years later the guards desert their posts and Ivan walks off free, together with the other inmates. Guided by some mysterious power, he returns to the region he originally came from…
An exploration of language identity, a crime thriller in a Finnish setting, and a surprisingly funny depiction of man and language's journey.
The Last of the Vostyachs won two literary prizes in Italy in 2002: the Premio Campiello and Premio Stresa, and was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in the UK.
'A genius Helsinki mystery with a touch of The Killing'