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They Know Not What They Do

Translated by Kristian London
Published by Oneworld Publications
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book

Winner of the 2014 Finlandia Prize


On the surface, Joe Chayefski has it all. A great job, a beautiful wife and two perfect daughters. But when the lab he works in as a neuroscientist is attacked, Joe is forced to face the past and reconnect with the son he abandoned twenty years earlier.

As Joe struggles to deal with the sudden collision of his two lives, he soon finds he needs to take drastic action to save the people he loves.

Gripping and suspenseful, They Know Not What They Do skilfully weaves together the big issues of the day- the relationship between science and ethics, and people's increasing inability to communicate - into an ambitious page-turner of a novel.

About The Author

Product Details

  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (November 2, 2017)
  • Length: 496 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781780749655

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Raves and Reviews

‘Classy and engrossing drama.’

– Daily Mail

'Smart, slightly futuristic, nicely plotted.'

– Mail on Sunday

'A hugely ambitious book. Literary fiction meets sci-fi meets thriller in a gripping exploration of animal rights, the light and dark of new technologies, international academia, and the dynamics within modern families. Excellent.'

– Will Dean, author of Dark Pines

'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.'

– Anna Paterson, World Literature Today

'A contemporary novel that doesn’t lose sight of perennial dilemmas.'

– Kirkus

'Contemporary literature simply doesn’t get better than this. A stunning work.'

– Helsingin Sanomat, Finland

'Well-crafted... They Know Not What They Do is a page-turner, skilfully translated by Kristian London.'

– Otago Daily Times (New Zealand)

'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

'A perfect novel for our time, They Know Not What They Do is a satirical critique of our contemporary infatuation with innovation, fuelled by corporate greed and a desire to do everything faster. With a sympathetic hand, Valtonen skillfully creates a perfect storm of ethical conundrums...all tied into a cautionary tale about a man struggling with the consequences of his decisions.'

– Shelf Awareness

'This Scandinavian thriller is the perfect read for long winter nights. Winner of the 2014 Finlandia Prize, They Know Not What They Do weaves family drama and high stakes with chilling results.'

– Paste

'This hugely ambitious work of contemporary realism offers a dramatic warning about the influence of digital culture.'

– Booklist

‘An engaging and fascinating exploration of the difficulties of modern parenting in the face of social media and technological advancements.’

– Guy Bolton, author of The Pictures

‘The novel addresses a multitude of themes wrapped up in a carefully plotted story with a thread of suspense running through it... The organisations whose tentacles are deeply embedded in so many aspects of our lives are unsettlingly well drawn – step forward Google – and the plotting is cleverly executed.’

– A Life in Books

'A portrait of our society and a futuristic thriller, the Finnish writer Jussi Valtonen draws a picture of our times as brilliant as it is chilling.'

– L’Express, France

'One of the most extraordinary books of recent times.'

– Könyvutca, Hungary

'Valtonen creates a frightening dystopian suspense that keeps readers spellbound, all the while inciting them to reflect on ethics and morals.'

– L’Obs, France

'An ambitious, nuanced plea for compassion.'

– De Standaard, Belgium

‘This is one of the most satisfying literary thrillers I have read, and I am not surprised it won the Finlandia Prize.’

– BookOxygen blog

'A thrilling, full-fledged, revolutionary, well-crafted work.'

– Vilmos Csányi, Est Ujság, Hungary

'They Know Not What They Do is a great novel that shows ambition and the willingness to take risks.'

– Sand am Meer, Austria

'They Know Not What They Do speaks to a large audience. There are few contemporary novels that can address both adolescents and middle-aged people, university professors and young green activists, parents and children, Europeans and Americans. […] Different opinions collide, but no one is right and no one is wrong. They simply see things differently, as if they were living in another dimension. That's what their tragedy is about.'

– Olvass bele literary blog, Hungary

'They Know Not What They Do is an arresting study of the relationship between science and ethics, and of people’s inability to communicate with one another.'

– Finlandia Prize 2014 jury

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