“The Rabbit Factor”: Amusing Novel by Antti Tuomainen | NDR.de – Culture

Status: 03.12.2021 5:19 p.m

Antti Tuomainen’s new novel The Rabbit Factor tells the story of an actuary who struggles to cope with the unlikely event.

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by Claudia Cosmo

The Finn Antti Tuomainen is one of the most successful writers in his home country and has been awarded the Finnish Crime Prize, among other things. His novels are published in 25 countries. The idea for his new novel “The Rabbit Factor” came to him quite casually on the way home. The writer Jan Costin Wagner translated the novel into German together with his wife Niina Katariina.

The calculation of probabilities determines Henri’s life

Henri Koskinen is an actuary. As an expert, he is familiar with mathematical and statistical surveys. The calculation of probabilities determines Henri’s entire rhythm of life. For example, the selection criteria for his apartment were based on efficiency and functionality.

The risk with such a world view: The smallest unpredictable constant throws Henri off balance. After his company declared him old-fashioned and attested his inflexibility, Henri was suggested to resign. But Antti Tuomainen’s narrative hero doesn’t feel disoriented and idle for long, because his brother has passed away. At the reading of the will, Henri learns from the lawyer:

“When a middle-aged man dies, it’s usually a rather sad affair. I’m sorry, but it’s not good for a film.”
reading sample

A surprising inheritance opens New opportunities

But his brother inherited something very special from Henri: an adventure park and employees. At this point, Antti Tuomainen’s novel “The Rabbit Factor” picks up speed and delivers a fast-paced story that would be suitable as film material thanks to its esprit-rich dialogues and comedic scenes.

In addition, Antti Tuomainen does not let his protagonist get stuck in his mathematical-analytical tics. Luckily, he doesn’t turn Henri’s love of probability calculation into an exaggerated running gag either.

Henri is allowed to develop further as a novel character. He uses his special mathematical skills in a targeted manner and also knows about his weaknesses, which he explains to the adventure park employees:

“I’m afraid of humor, hilarity, spontaneity, quick-wittedness, and comforts of all kinds,” I say. I raised my voice, almost talking myself into a rage. “We are now acting as the situation requires. As soon as the situation changes, we will think again.”
reading sample

Criminals cause Henri a lot of trouble

As the new head of the adventure park, Henri surpasses himself and becomes brave; despite all the incalculable challenges such as love. Henri begins to clean up the park. Despite good visitor numbers, the company seems to be making losses.

He finds out that his late brother has gambling debts with evil criminals. They are now demanding their money back from Henri and are trying to kill him in the adventure park.

The essential questions of life

At the center of the life-threatening turbulence is the oversized rabbit, who not only lends Henri his ear to defend himself, but also gives the novel its title. Because of the euphony, the nager became the rabbit in the German translation of the novel title.

But another animal appears, Henri’s cat Schopenhauer. A quiet contemporary who gives the entertaining novel a philosophical note.

Antti Tuomainen succeeds in breathing life’s essential questions into his novel. Whereby art and love are probably the greatest constants for all of us.

The rabbit factor

by Antti Tuomainen, translated from Finnish by Niina Katariina Wagner and Jan Costin Wagner

Page number:
352 pages
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NDR Culture | New Books | 03.12.2021 | 12:40 p.m

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