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On the surface, the Paul family is living the liberal, middle-class Scandinavian dream. Max Paul is a renowned sociologist and his wife, Katriina, has a well-paid job in the public sector. They live in an airy apartment in the centre of Helsinki. But look closer and the cracks start to show.
As Max approaches his sixtieth birthday, the certainties of his life begin to dissolve. He hasn’t produced any work of note for decades. His wife no longer loves him. His grown-up daughters one in London, one in Helsinki have problems of their own. So when a former student turned journalist shows up and offers him a seductive lifeline, Max starts down a dangerous path from which he may never find a way back.
Funny, sharp, and brilliantly truthful, Teir’s debut has the feel of a big, contemporary, humane American novel, but with a distinctly Scandinavian edge.
Philip Teir, a Finland-Swede, is considered one of the most promising young writers in Scandinavia. His poetry and short stories have been included in anthologies, including Granta Finland. The Winter War is his first novel. He is married with two children and lives in Helsinki, Finland.