The Beggar & the Hare is a modern re-telling of a Finnish classic tale The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna. The story tells of a man, Vatanescu, who flees his home to lead a new life as a migrant trafficked beggar, all with the aim to raise enough cash to buy his son a pair of football boots.
He becomes embroiled with a Russian trafficker, Yegor, who revels at the dismay of others and profits in their losses. Soon after meeting Yegor, he (Vatanescu) finds out exactly what sort of person he is and he realises that he needs to find another way to make the money he so eagerly needs. His journey takes him far and wide and along the way he meets every sort of character thinkable…oh and a Hare! This injured creature provides Vatanescu with some respite and solace while he is essentially on the run from Yegor.
Vatanescu’s journey takes him to places he would have usually only dreamt of and on adventures that he would never have imagined. The Beggar & the Hare is a sweet tale of friendship and strength even during the hardest of times. Being down and out doesn’t mean that your life is over- make of it what you will.
Kyrö’s prose is often hilarious and I found myself smiling whilst reading the closing chapters, as I felt as though I’d really travelled with our plucky hero. I felt that the book was a little too zany in places and thought that it could have been toned down slightly here and there to have made for a much more welcome ending. Quite similar to Jonas Jonasson’s The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared in both style and content, fans of Jonasson’s work will enjoy this slightly over-the-top tale.
The version that I read was a brilliantly designed small hardback with a coppery bronze inlay for the eye and whiskers of the hare on the cover. A really nice touch that should make people pick it up for a look for sure.