This Italian author has received much praise for this prize-winning novel, only recently translated into English (2011), despite being originally published in 2000. My mother is Finnish, and I know and love Helsinki and Finland. Without this interest, I do not think I would have read this book or even have found it particularly interesting. I just didn't 'get' it. It's certainly an unusual story. I would give it two stars, but it gets an extra star for being about Finland - which does not feature in most people's consciousness - albeit Finland in the 1940s during the second world war. Coincidentally (?), the story of Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki's 2002 film 'The Man Without a Past' (Mies vailla menneisyyttä) has many similarities both in plot (where a man who lost his memory is looked after by the Salvation Army in the film) and feeling.