Sofi Oksanen, a Finnish novelist of Estonian descent, attended the book release event for her latest novel at the Solaris shopping center on Thursday, followed by the world premiere of a film based on "Purge," which has won several prestigious literary prizes.
Like the latter novel, Oksanen's latest, "Kun kyyhkyset katosivat" (When the Doves Disappeared), currently out in Finnish, discusses Estonia's 20th century history. The narrative is underpinned by an observation made about a change in nature wrought by one of the occupations.
"Of course, the dove is an excellent symbol, known also as a symbol for peace and very popular in the Soviet Union as well. But actually the first idea for the dove came when I had heard a story about how pigeons actually disappeared in the beginning of the German occupation. And that was a [memory] that I also found from the written books and biographies and it was such a strong visual picture in my head. And also because it feels so strange. Estonians do not eat pigeons all the time […] The German soldiers ate the doves and so there were no doves," Oksanen said at the release event.
Oksanen said reader reactions and historical interpretations to her novels have differed from country to country.
She went on to discuss how the themes in her book apply today, touching on propaganda, dictatorships, and specifically Russia's scandal with the punk band Pussy Riot.