“How to describe the book? Imagine it is the end of the world, and Tolkien, Beckett, Mark Twain, and Miyazaki (with Icelandic sagas and Asterix comic books stuffed under their arms) have got together in a cabin to drink and tell stories around the last bonfire the world will ever see.”Le Magazine Littéraire
The Man Who Spoke Snakish
978-0-8021-2412-8 • $16.00 • Paperback • Nov. 2015
“The first great talent of this young Estonian author is to make us laugh about complex subjects . . . The sense of humor and the imagery resembles a graphic novel or animated film . . . Probably one of the best contemporary novels about what it means to be alone . . . Marvelous in all senses of the word.”Le Monde
A bestseller in the author’s native country of Estonia, where the book is so well known that a popular board game has been created based on it, The Man Who Spoke Snakish is the imaginative and moving story of a boy who is tasked with preserving ancient traditions in the face of modernity. Set in a fantastical version of medieval Estonia, The Man Who Spoke Snakish follows a young boy, Leemet, who lives with his hunter-gatherer family in the forest and is the last speaker of the ancient tongue of snakish, a language that allows its speakers to command all animals. But the forest is gradually emptying as more and more people leave to settle in villages, where they break their backs tilling the land to grow wheat for their “bread” (which Leemet has been told tastes horrible) and where they pray to a god very different from the spirits worshipped in the forest’s sacred grove. With lothario bears who wordlessly seduce women, a giant louse with a penchant for swimming, a legendary flying frog, and a young charismatic viper named Ints, The Man Who Spoke Snakish is a totally inventive novel for readers of David Mitchell, Sjón, and Terry Pratchett.
A word-of-mouth success in France, and one of the bestselling books ever published in Estonia, The Man Who Spoke Snakish is the first of Kivirähk’s novels ever to be published in Englishand sure to entertain and surprise readers worldwide.