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Lagraziana's Kalliopeion

This is a blog about my reads as well as everything related to them.

My taste is for good quality literature - old and new. Some of it I review here or on my main book blog Edith's Miscellany.



Horrors of the Past and of the Present: Purge by Sofi Oksanen

Fegefeuer - Sofi Oksanen, Angela Plöger Purge - Sofi Oksanen

Abridged version of my review posted on Edith’s Miscellany on 1 November 2013

The plot of Purge is mainly set in a remote village of Western Estonia and takes place on two time levels, the early 1990s and the 1940s, both eras of drastic change in the Baltic region. The protagonists are Aliide Truu, an Estonian peasant woman in her late sixties, and Zara, a young forced sex worker originating from Vladivostok who seeks help and refuge on Aliide Truu’s farm. The encounter makes Aliide remember her inglorious and terrifying past when the Hitler-Stalin pact of 1939, World War II and its aftermaths turned upside down Aliide’s and all her family’s life, but also Zara has to face the purge in which she got caught and which also has roots in Aliiede’s history.

The style in which Sofi Oksanen tells the story of Purge is very matter-of-fact although her language is rather poetic (even in German translation) and full of symbols. The horrors of Soviet occupation in Estonia (as everywhere else in Stalin’s sphere) and the relentless chase after potential enemies of the Communist cause are depicted truthfully and in accordance with many other accounts of the time. Also in her description of the ways how the two Russian Mafia pimps brought Zara to heel and which mirrors Aliide’s remoter experience of sexual terror the author remains very realistic and yet far from vulgar.

Overall Purge is an excellent read which shows once more that times of war and dictatorial regimes make legalised crime thrive. At any rate, I recommend Purge by Sofi Oksanen and hope that its readers will learn their lesson from it.

For the full review please click here to go to my blog Edith’s Miscellany.

Source: http://edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com