Shrouds / Käärinliinat

Tammi 2009, 279 pp

By Marko Hautala.

From the Tammi/Elina Ahlbäck Rights Guide:

A story about people’s need to preserve their loved ones, both dead and alive, but also the need to conceal their wrongdoing from the eyes of others.

On a mild May day, as Finland is celebrating its victory in the Ice Hockey World Championships, a violent crime takes place in the depths of a concrete suburb. The murderer turns out to be Olavi Finne, a lonely old man who can’t explain what happened. He’s locked up in a mental institution.

Over ten years later, thirty-year old Mikael is assigned to be Finne’s designated nurse. Mikael’s life is in crisis: his spouse is seriously ill, and Mikael is suffering from the trauma resulting from a violent episode at work. Death and a continual state of fear hang over his life as very tangible threats.

Being assigned to the seemingly harmless Olavi was supposed to have made Mikael’s life easier. But the men’s caregiver-patient bond rapidly begins to grow tighter, as Mikael grows interested in the curious stories related by his odd patient.

Gradually Mikael begins to doubt the patient record, according to which Olavi is simply an old man suffering from schizophrenia. His stories of the possibility of eternal life and toying with the idea of gaining victory over death instil a new, bizarre hope in Mikael.

Shrouds is simultaneously a dark and intense story about the power of the human mind as well as a merciless depiction of the harsh life at a mental institution.

“The ending offers a surprise which upgrades a fine story to an excellent one.” Metro

Marko Hautala — Shrouds — Sample Translation (PDF)

Marko’s blog

An interview with Marko at Sea Minor

Also by this author:

Worms

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