My rating: 3 stars
Some books are more meaningful for readers from the same countries as their authors than for those from other places. I feel like The Man Who Spoke Snakish by Andrus Kivirähk is one of such books, mainly because of the various references to what I believe is Estonian lore. This is an allegorical fantasy novel, set in the Middle Ages, about a changing world. The action is based on the contrasts between the ancient traditions that lingered in forests and the modernity of daily life in villages, where the influence of other countries and the Catholic Church was intense.
Leemet, the narrator of the novel, still lives in the same forest where he settled in with his mother when he was only 1 year old. There seems to be no other human beings left there, although he has a “companion”. He is the last remaining speaker of Snakish, a language used to command animals. But, unfortunately, not many of them obey anymore. He starts recollecting various events from his past and elucidating the reader about why the forest became devoid of people.
Before he was born, his parents had moved to a village almost like everyone else. His father enjoyed the way of living there, whereas his mother didn’t. They didn’t stay there for long, though, since his father died following an altercation with a bear who his mother was having an affair with. Yes, bestiality is a reality in this story and is present throughout. Bears are tremendously attracted to women, which I found bizarre and not that funny. Also, I’m not a huge fan of talking animals and there are plenty of them. Continue reading