By Arto Paasilinna.
Apparently there is no English translation, but the literal translation of the title would be something like »Happy man«.
The original was published way back in 1976. Yet it seems like the story had just been written. All the books by this author make the reader feel this way. They are contemporary, no mater when the author made them up.
The story revolves around Akseli Jaatinen, a bridge engineer who arrives into a small town or maybe a village, where he is hired to build a new main local bridge because the old one isn’t safe any more.
Of course, as it is a small place where everybody knows everybody, the residents also have to gossip and slander. People find it hard to accept changes, even if for the better. The main target is, as a newcomer, the engineer, who finds himself in the middle of a struggle for domination simply to have the work done. The villagers feel threatened by his strength and self esteem, even though he has no intention to harm anybody and has done nothing wrong. But the engineer is also stubborn and proud, he doesn’t fall to their degrading, but, on the contrary, he finds his strength in people’s fear and through a series of events becomes somewhat a local tycoon and pulls all the strings in the town.
The main thing here is that he is not a bad person, but through the story, he teaches a lesson every single person who tries or has tried to harm him. Somehow in the end they all admit that, even if a tycoon, he only did good things for the town and has mostly been fair to everyone.
To me this has been the best novel by Paasilinna so far. Though it is criticized for being boring and predictable, it has an important message – persevere, regardless of those who try to take you down. If you have your heart in the right place and insist in this way to achieve your goals without hurting anyone along the way, you can only go along the path of good and justice – for everyone.
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