Riku Korhonen
Publication date
September 2016
Format info
392 pages

We Don’t Believe in Evil Anymore

Emme enää usko pahaan

When men start resuscitating old myths, women better prepare for fresh tears.

Paintball entrepreneur Eero Viitanen lives in a house by the sea with his wife, Aino, and two daughters. Things are fine, but the story’s a little mundane. Eero decides to arrange a little excitement by abducting Aino, the way Zeus carried off Europa in ancient times, and asks his old friend Lari to lend a hand.

Aino works at a home for patients with substance abuse and mental health issues, and one of the home’s  young residents has gotten into hot water. The two worlds of an economically divided Finland collide, and the resulting interaction doesn’t enrich anyone’s life. Like self-fulfilling prophecies, Eero’s tall tales about wife-robbing start to come true, with tragic consequences.

We Don’t Believe in Evil Anymore deals with the fatal power of stories, a liberal cultural that has forgotten its theological and philosophical traditions, and its helplessness in the face of evil.


Awards and nominations

2017 Shortlisted for the Jarkko Laine Award for Finnish Literature
2016 Shortlisted for the Finlandia Fiction Award


Reading materials

English sample
Review in English
Finnish edition


Praise for the work

We Don’t Believe in Evil Anymore begins as a farce but finally turns into a tragedy. It’s a story about “the last man” as described by Nietzsche; about “us”, the middle-class, seeking a comfortable life. Korhonen casts confidence in the novel as an instrument, with which it is possible to treat weighty social and philosophical themes.  In this contemporary novel Korhonen describes the inhabitants and areas of Turku, the city in which the story is anchored, with love but without romanticizing them.” – Statement of the Jury, Jarkko Laine Award

It is a sweltering late summer’s day at Ispoinen’s residential area of Turku. So far osteopathy, sleeping pills and detailed scheduling of his days have kept Eero’s early midlife crisis in check. But today he has decided to spice up his stale marriage – and he is about to do so by the means of a caveman. This event changes everything forever. Korhonen has written a timely and candid novel about the difficulty of loving and of man’s susceptibility to evil deeds.” – Statement of the Jury, Finlandia Fiction Award

“We Don’t Believe in Evil Anymore is an excellent novel not just because of its imaginative story, but also because of its ability to expand its focus from the main character to include an analysis of a generation and gender. [–] The novel pulls the reader in from the very first lines, it’s surprising and amusing, and it leads the reader through diverse layers of affect. Above all, Korhonen unrolls finely crafted sentences, sometimes up to a page long, in which the words, rhythm and metaphors fit snugly and very naturally in their own places. Korhonen has written a fabulous novel.” – Kaisa Kurikka, Turun Sanomat newspaper

“Riku Korhonen has written a fantastic novel in which everyday life, crime and punishment are intertwined. [–] Korhonen writes new Mimesis. His narrative style has a strong pull and rugged turns. But in essence, he draws a relatable map of the times, not a novel of effects. The end result is a fuller reading experience than anything I’ve experienced in a long time. Korhonen doesn’t play around, he doesn’t have to.” – Matti Mäkelä, Helsingin Sanomat newspaper

“Korhonen has grown into a precise analyst of middle-aged malaise. He does not offer much sympathy, nor does he provide a cure, but the disease is described as precisely as examination results from a laboratory.  As is typical for Korhonen, the story progresses constantly at its own pace, never shackled by the rhythm of scenes, paragraphs or even narrative voices. When necessary, the text simply flows over the reader, creating a strangely total, even stagnant reading experience.  In its oppressiveness, the end of the novel is almost perfect. A beautiful picture could hardly be more dismal.” – Jussi Aurén, Aamulehti

We Don’t Believe in Evil Anymore is an exceptionally successfully constructed academic novel: carefully thought out, carefully written. It is the most brilliant work ­­– and already the most recognised and acclaimed – in Korhonen’s oeuvre thus far.” ­– Pekka Jäntti, Savon Sanomat newspaper

“Ever since Balzac’s time, one of the main tasks of a novelist has been to describe the changing values of society. We Don’t Believe in Evil Anymore achieves this splendidly. It is an important book. I also like Korhonen’s prose: he is a Finnish author whose work I enjoy reading even just for the language. Korhonen is not an experimental prosaist. He does not try to rethink the form of a novel or weave a labyrinthine narrative, his strength lies in sentences that move through broad registers of emotion and achieve even the smallest nuances. [–] We Don’t Believe in Evil Anymore is a reminder what fictive prose is at its best: a war against clichés.” – Tommi Melender, Antiaikalainen literary blog

“The message of Korhonen’s novel is, however, universal. It grows into a depiction of Western countries that have lost their direction and of the confused people who inhabit them. Despite the great deal of social commentary in the work, Korhonen is still at his best when describing love.”  ­– Image magazine’s literary blog

“[–] in its latter half, the novel suddenly accelerates to such an overdrive that my head is still spinning from it. The last time I experienced a climax of this calibre was at the end of Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes, but Korhonen speeds up in the company van borrowed to kidnap his own wife at an even more deathly pace. [–] Despite its unbelievably complex content, We Don’t Believe in Evil Anymore still manages to form a structurally compact, smoothly flowing package. Korhonen manages to build up the main characters of his novel into multi-layered, interesting and pitiful humans, while at the same time capturing a picture of Finland in the 2010s that comes close to describing an entire generation. [–] Korhonen has the magnificent ability to move his novel forward through avalanche-like scenes at several different levels [–] We Don’t Believe in Evil Anymore is a sturdily and confidently constructed novel with a tight atmosphere that simply sweeps the reader away with its unbelievably multi-layered characters and shocking events.” – Opus Eka literary blog

“This story in itself would already be enough – a precise but merciful and absolutely beautiful depiction of the people, family and relationships of our time, one that dives into the depths of the mind, its glowing landscapes drawn true to life ­– but Korhonen manages to bring the whole setup even further, into a cycle of violence and compulsion, to the shady outskirts of society and the centre of working life. [–] There is so much here, but nothing is superfluous. The crown jewel is Korhonen’s magnificent language and narration, which bring lightness, oxygen and space to a truly topical and often very heavy story. It is reminiscent of what literature can be at its best: diving through language into a world that is at once new and foreign, known and unknown. [–] Korhonen’s novel can be read in a moment, as its pull is so strong, but the imprint it leaves will remain firmly, which is good, because it is so splendid and fascinating.” – Helmi Kekkonen’s literary blog

“There is gravity in Korhonen’s sentences. The rhythm of the text sweeps the reader away. Particularly the depictions of people are blooming with descriptions combining action, thought and soul. I very much enjoy the meandering quality of the narration and the way it moves from one person to the next. I am also captivated by the visual power of time and place.” – Tuijata literary blog