James Thompson Talks Taboo With Associated Press

James Thompson authorJames Thompson recently sat down with the Associated Press to discuss his dark, outsider perspective on Finnish society and how it’s won him a few enemies but plenty of readers. 

“All I’m doing is writing traditional Finnish stories,” he says. “This is the land of sad songs and what I write is simply repeating the themes that have dominated Finnish literature and music forever.”

The interview continues:

Finns may find his themes familiar, but as a foreigner, Thompson can also broach subjects that are uncomfortable or mildly taboo in Finnish society: Immigration, Nazi collaboration during World War II, race relations or right-wing politics.

“I discuss things that other people don’t discuss or don’t see,” he says.

That has brought him some online flak from Finland’s political right. It probably doesn’t help that some of his most despicable villains seem to be thinly veiled caricatures of well-known politicians or businessmen.

Jukka Petaja, a novelist and literary critic at the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper, said many Finns don’t agree with the image of Finland that Thompson portrays.

“But it doesn’t prevent readers from enjoying books by him,” Petaja said. “Having some distance from Finland, Jim Thompson can also see some phenomenon even clearer than many Finns.”

Read the full story here.


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