Since the 1980’s playwright, scriptwriter and essayist Kari Hukkila (b. 1955) has written essays on the fine arts and literature, radio plays, TV dramas and plays shown both in Finland and Europe. His recent work includes a collage portrait of the poet Jacques Roubaud for the Finnish Broadcasting Company, a TV drama Katso ihmistä (‘Behold The Man’) of the writer Hannu Salama’s blasphemy trial and, together with Sanna Kekäläinen, the dance performance Faunin iltapäivä (‘The Afternoon of a Faun’) which was performed in Austria in 2009. Kerettiläisesseet (‘The Heretic Essays’) is his debut work as published writer. Hukkila has studied literature, history, art history, philosophy and modern literary Arabic at Helsinki University. The best sources for his writing he has found on his journeys to Central and Southern Europe and the Arab countries.
Kari Hukkila’s first literary work, the collection called The Heretic Essays is an extremely interesting and singularly irritating book. I have argued many days against Hukkila, on Hukkila’s behalf and with a vague understanding for Hukkila. The Heretic Essays consists of some ten essays. Their theme is one and the same and it couldn’t be of more current importance: immigration, what happens to people on the journey from one culture to another. Unlike most other participants in the current debate Hukkila also knows something of the subject. (…) The Heretic Essays brings quality, depth and nuances to the immigration debate.
– Matti Mäkelä, Helsingin Sanomat
We need people like Hukkila, a writer who is independent of the genre restrictions of travel fiction, to activate new perspectives on debates about stereotypical enemies. (…) The long and meandering essays have their origins in Hukkila’s own experiences with North African emigrants. In these encounters the national culture of the people does not matter, says Hukkila happily.
– Markku Soikkeli, Turun Sanomat
Hukkila’s book is an important statement in the immigration and ‘Islam threat’ debate as incipient racism continues to rise in Europe. Constructing an internalized hostile image is the root of all totalitarianism.
– Hannu Waarala, Keskisuomalainen
From Paris the viewpoint expands across Europe and North Africa all the way to Yemen. The phenomena and the eras change but Hukkila continuously examines what kind of – good – imprints the Islamic culture has left on the West and what kind of convulsions the enshrinement of pure Christianity has led to.
– Pirjo Hämäläinen, Kansan Uutiset
Kari Hukkila’s The Heretic Essays is the delightful story of a decades-long friendship between two men from very different backgrounds. The starting point is the turn of the eighties when Hukkila gets to know a group of Algerian youngsters hanging around in front of Notre Dame. The essays deal with a friendship which does not depend on similarity, and Europe which defines the positions and attitudes between the West and Islam as a confrontation.
Through modern Yemen and Algeria, Hukkila journeys to the Spain of the Middle Ages, from the Golden Ages of the 12th and 16th centuries he returns to modern Paris and his friend Hafed. He reflects on Dostoyevsky’s Grand Inquisitor, Carl Schmitt, Romany beggars, the Picaresque novel, Spinoza’s converso background, the Arab tradition of hospitality and ends up on Omaha Beach. Together, the subjects form a rich and splendid whole which shows that heretics have always been needed. But that even discordant friendship is a force that keeps the world together.
The Heretic Essays ponders Europe’s seemingly intractable conflicts, awakening a conversation around xenophobia, foreignness and the confrontation between cultures. By its wide-ranging scholarship and open thinking the book brings new aspects of thought to the debate. Hukkila’s writing style is gently ironic and thoughtful, tender when speaking of friends but uncompromising and direct when faced with stupidity and cruelty.
Original name: Kerettiläisesseet
Publisher: Savukeidas 2010
Softcover 110 x 165 mm
Cover design: Ville Hytönen