When the Doves Disappeared
Written by Sofi Oksanen
Translated by Lola Rogers
Publication Date February 14, 2015
From the internationally acclaimed author of Purge comes a chillingly suspenseful, deftly woven new novel that opens up a little-known yet still controversial chapter of history: the occupation, resistance, and collaboration in Estonia during and after World War II.
1941: In Communist-ruled, war-ravaged Estonia, two men are fleeing from the Red Army — Roland, a fiercely principled freedom fighter, and his slippery cousin Edgar. When the Germans arrive, Roland goes into hiding; Edgar abandons his unhappy wife, Juudit, and takes on a new identity as a loyal supporter of the Nazi regime . . . 1963: Estonia is again under Communist control, independence even further out of reach behind the Iron Curtain. Edgar is now a Soviet apparatchik, desperate to hide the secrets of his past life and stay close to those in power. But his fate remains entangled with Roland’s, and with Juudit, who may hold the key to uncovering the truth . . .
In a masterfully told story that moves between the tumult of these two brutally repressive eras — a story of surveillance, deception, passion, and betrayal — Sofi Oksanen brings to life both the frailty, and the resilience, of humanity under the shadow of tyranny.
SOFI OKSANEN is a Finnish-Estonian novelist and playwright. Her novel Purge won the Prix Femina and the Nordic Council Literature Prize, and When the Doves Disappeared was the winner of the Swedish Academy Nordic Prize and longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award. Her latest novel, Norma, is a #1 bestseller in Finland and has been shortlisted for the Young Aleksis Literature Prize. She has also received the Budapest Grand Prize and the European Book Prize. She lives in Helsinki.
Lola Rogers is a Finnish to English literary translator. She has contributed translations of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry to a variety of journals and anthologies and has translated numerous novels, including Purge by Sofi Oksanen, which was chosen as a Best Book of 2010 by the Sunday Times and others. She lives in Seattle.
"Sofi Oksanen writes with an artistically impeccable mix of raw brutality and an emotional wealth of detail. As a reader, one is drawn into the story by the text’s transmission of strong emotions: rage, disgust, grief, and compassion. But above all it is fear that constantly trembles over each page. The plot creates an atmosphere like that of le Carré." Östgöta-Correspondenten (Sweden)
"Suspenseful, moving, horrifying, and very skillfully written." Helsingborgs Dagblad (Sweden)
"Sofi Oksanen is the biggest Nordic author of the moment . . . What a remarkable writing ability this young Finnish woman possesses . . . She writes with a prose that is constantly alive and pulsating without for a second losing the perfect pitch." Allehanda (Sweden)
"With her new novel, Sofi Oksanen demonstrates that she belongs in the premier league of literature . . . In many ways it can be said to have a kinship with the great Russian classics . . . The story also offers a lot of suspense and many surprising twists . . . What a unique literary talent she possesses." Dagsavisen (Norway)
"Meticulously precise prose . . . This is powerful fiction that stirs history, war crimes, and psychology into a compelling mix." Booklist
"Oksanen depicts civilian life in wartime and under communist oppression in rich historical detail, skillfully manipulating chronology and threading clues subtly throughout the narrative as suspense builds. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"Great thriller about a part of the world not well-known to Western readers. Sofi Oksanen is a writer to watch." Globe and Mail
". . . her research and dogged writing bring to life an era of staggering deprivation — farms gone fallow, sugar rationed, horses shot and lines painted up the back of women’s legs to mimic stockings."
"The fragmented narrative, adeptly translated by Rogers, switches between the Third Reich and the height of Soviet power, using these two time periods to make ideal use of dramatic irony, to render understandable collusion with the enemy as well as portray its consequences, and to evoke sympathy for a man whose ambition leads him to commit terrible atrocities. Oksanen manages to relate these stories without horror or judgment, and reminds the reader that, whatever else people in wartime may do, they are human creatures, and not the one-dimensional monsters that history makes them seem to be." Publishers Weekly