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Publishers Group Canada

They Know Not What They Do
By (author): Jussi Valtonen By (author): Kristian London
9781780749648 Hardcover, Cloth English General Trade FICTION / Literary Dec 15, 2017
$40.50 CAD
Active 6 x 9.2 x 1.64 in 656 pages Oneworld Publications
"This hugely ambitious work of contemporary realism offers a dramatic warning about the influence of digital culture."
-- Booklist

Joe Chayefski has got what he always wanted: a reputation as one of America's top neuroscientists, a beautiful wife and two perfect daughters. But his carefully created idyll is threatened when his Baltimore neuroscience lab is targeted by animal rights activists. The attack is followed by a phone call from Joe's ex-wife in Finland. Two decades have passed since he abandoned Alina and their young son, Samuel, returning to America to advance his career. Now Samuel is somewhere in the States, and Alina fears he is looking for revenge.

As Joe struggles to protect his new family from the increasing threat of violence – and to save his eldest daughter from the clutches of an unscrupulous tech company – he is forced to reconsider his priorities and take drastic action to save those he loves.

Jussi Valtonen is an author and psychologist from Helsinki, Finland. He was a Fulbright Scholar and studied at Johns Hopkins University. His previous works include two novels and a short story collection.

Kristian London is an American translator who divides his time between Seattle and Helsinki.

"This Scandinavian thriller is the perfect read for long winter nights. Winner of the 2014 Finlandia Prize (Finland’s highest literary honor),They Know Not What They Do weaves family drama and high stakes with chilling results."
—Paste Magazine

"Jussi Valtonen delivers a heart-pounding thriller about a neurosurgeon in Baltimore, his abandoned Finnish family, and the unnerving speed of technological innovation.”
—Shelf Awareness for Readers

"Contemporary fiction simply doesn't get better than this. A stunning work."

"A big social novel about upper-middle-class life today... a contemporary novel that doesn’t lose sight of perennial dilemmas.”
-- Kirkus Reviews

"A mind-blowing work. It illuminates modern life with a rare sense of perception."

"The buzz likens Valtonen to Franzen or Eggers, but you know, Finnish. I call the comparisons misleading. They Know Not What They Do is neither indulgent, nor self-satisfied, nor glib, but charts its own course toward an understanding of contemporary society and the importance of perspective. And a page turner to boot—huzzah!”
—Words Without Borders

"Remarkable.... Valtonen’s grip on plot and character is so masterful that his storytelling easily contains his restless speculation about influences on how we live now and where we might end up as our old value systems begin to crumble."
—World Literature Today

"Finnish author, psychologist, and Fulbright scholar Valtonen’s novel begins with Joe Chayefski, a neuroscientist, moving to Finland with Alina, the mother of his child. Joe soon becomes frustrated with Finnish life, and he eventually leaves Alina and their infant son, Samuel. Twenty years later, Joe has remarried, had two daughters, and become a successful researcher in Baltimore. In a satirical thread, Valtonen takes aim at and warns against, the power of social media not unlike Dave Eggers does in The Circle (2013), as Joe attempts to protect his daughters from corporate manipulation. Joe’s world is further transformed when his lab is vandalized by animal-rights activists. As these attacks escalate, and as his life starts to spiral out of control, Joe’s past collides with the present. While this novel is deeply in debt to the sweeping scope of Jonathan Franzen (there is even a character named Mr. Franzen), its best moments occur when Valtonen reads more like the understated work of Anne Tyler. Ultimately, this hugely ambitious work of contemporary realism offers a dramatic warning about the influence of digital culture."
-- Booklist


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