Our series of short interviews continue! Read the breathtaking one with Matias Riikonen, the author of this autumn’s literary event, the novel Matara, now nominated for the biggest award of the year, Finlandia Prize. Children’s games gone too serious, inspirations from Plato to Finnish soldiers of the 1930s, finding literary voice and many more fascinating thoughts. An of course, the cherry on the top – the beloved questionnaire! Read the interview here.
Our short interviews are back! Meet Sari Rainio & Juha Rautaheimo, the authors of the new, exciting and a pinch nostalgic detective series Mortuí non silent and its first part, The Dead Still Speak. The authors discuss the main ideas behind the series, their love for Helsinki and the respect for the dead characters. And of course, the cherry on the top – the beloved questionnaire! Read the interview here.
Our Little Pike has reached the peak of its world domination: the fantastic novel, dubbed as the “bomb” and a “formidable punk fairytale”, written by Juhani Karila, has now been sold to the English world. The publisher in the USA and Canada is Restless Books, and the publisher in Great Britain and The Commonwealth is Pushkin Press.
Restless Books is an independent, nonprofit house devoted to “championing essential voices from around the world whose stories speak to us across linguistic and cultural borders”, in the words of the publisher.
Pushkin Press is a beautiful publisher based in Great Britain, interested in everything from timeless classics to the urgent and contemporary. The house has published some of the twentieth century’s most widely acclaimed and brilliant authors who have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, the International Booker Prize, and even won the Nobel Prize.
Fishing for the Little Pike has been recently published in the French world, in translation by Claire Saint-Germain, where it was met with raging reviews, comparing the book to Shakespeare, Paasilinna, Rabelais and Don Quixote. The novel is now nominated for Prix Micheline, a booksellers’ prize for the best literary debut.
World English is the 12th foreign rights territory for Karila’s novel, and the previous deals include:
World Arab, Al Arabi;
Denmark, Jensen & Dalgaard;
Estonia, Hea Lugu;
World French, La Peuplade;
Hungary, Metropolis Media;
Congratulations to the author! Don’t forget to tune in Literature from Finland podcast episode MYTH, where Karila discussed myths from and about Finland.
Award season is in full swing in Finland, and nominations keep pouring in. Just last week, we announced our nominees for the most important literary award of the year, Finlandia Prize.
Now we are extremely thrilled to announce that the beautiful picture book Matias and Everything that Was Far Away, written by Anja Portin and illustrated by Sanna Pelliccioni, is nominated for the Runeberg Junior Prize. The prize is given yearly in two categories – adult fiction and children’s literature – and is often considered to be the most important literary award after Finlandia.
Matias and Everything that Was Far Away is a poignantly beautiful story about human curiosity and longing. Anja Portin was last year’s Finlandia Junior Prize winner; for this book, she was inspired by the astronomical magic-lantern pictures made by her great-grandfather in the early 20th century. Sanna Pelliccioni is a versatile artist who has illustrated dozens of children’s books; in the book about Matias, she conjures up magical images from some of these enchanting old slides.
The winners are traditionally announced on the 5th of February, the National Runeberg Day.
Congratulations to the authors!
Three fiction and one nonfiction title are on the run for the biggest literary award of the year.
Marjo Niemi’s Hearing, Matias Riikonen’s Matara, and Pirkko Saisio’s Passion are among the six best Finnish novels of the year.
Reviews have characterized Matias Riikonen’s fourth novel Matara (Teos, 2021) as “among the best Finnish contemporary prose” and “a masterpiece.” It is a book about boys’ wargames that is utterly serious, and an homage to the richness of children’s imagination.
The Finlandia Prize jury writes:
“Matara is a novel about childhood, the child’s gaze, and loyalty, but also an adventure novel, a depiction of hierarchies and power struggles within the frame of a role-playing game reflecting the times of Caesar. In terms of language and idiom, Matara is as complex and rich as the natural world it portrays. The world of Matara is unique but recognizable.”
Matara is a story about boys’ games gone an inch too seriously. Boys of a summer camp spend their days in the realm they have built: the Republic of Matara. It has a law, a societal structure, plotting for power and bonds between citizens, as any real state. Under the guidance of his older brother, a young boy trains to be a scout. While spying, the pair come upon an enemy camp: war is at hand.
Marjo Niemi’s Hearing (Teos, 2021) is the latest novel from the Runeberg Prize-winning author, in which a middle-aged woman shuts herself in the closet to write letters – to be heard. Ferocious, funny, and continuously surprising, this novel paints a picture of not only the contemporary individual but also the world in which we live.
The Finlandia Prize jury says:
“Linguistic virtuoso Titta K. has withdrawn into isolation to tap out furious letters to various parties. The letters ooze a compulsive need to be heard. Irresistible, fresh, and permeated by black humor, this is a world that is built language first. Its frank discourse and structurally interesting whole speak to readers who are unafraid of the new.”
In Hearing, a relatively ordinary, privileged, middle-class individual gripes, confesses, rationalizes, and begs to be… something. Her own special persona who deserves the lot she imagines for herself, maybe a little money too. Niemi masterfully weaves a black comedy about a person who takes her share of hard knocks and doesn’t get discouraged or give up, but keeps trying again and again, if for no other reason than to fail a little more spectacularly next time.
With her novel Passion (Siltala, 2021), Pirkko Saisio becomes a seven-time Finlandia Prize nominee. She received the prize in 2003 for The Red Book of Farewells, the final work of an autofictional trilogy. In Saisio’s extensive oeuvre, Passion is a wholly new sort of work: a prolific, Tarkovskian chronicle of Europe centered on life’s purpose and the search for meaning, which a reviewer has characterized as “the glittering golden crown of the literary season.”
According to the Finlandia Prize jury:
“Passion is narrative art, a cultural-historically rich work that leads the reader through the centuries from the 1400s to the 1950s. The language of the novel flows effortlessly and evocatively. The characters are loving or have lost their love, greedy or guileless, throw themselves into their lives heart and soul. Death, spirituality, and the narrator’s heartfelt humor are intensely present.”
Passion is a story of an extravagant necklace that begins its journey at the dawn of 16th century, in the hands of a princess in Florence, and continues travelling on through ages, generations and countries – eventually reaching today’s Finland. The novel is a grand vision: a color-saturated, Tarkovskian chronicle of Europe centered on life’s purpose and the search for meaning.
Julia Thurén’s nonfiction book Everything You Need to Know about Consumerism (Gummerus, 2021) is a smart piece of nonfiction that explains where to direct your gaze in a world where the climate crisis isn’t going to be solved through KonMari and vegetarianism alone. In this profound but entertaining and engagingly written work, Thurén explains why we feel the need to consume and offers genuine answers.
The Tieto-Finlandia jury had this to say:
“The work fulfills nonfiction’s important democratizing mission by pondering the structures and laws underpinning consumer culture in a way that helps readers understand them without feeling blamed for everyday choices and that opens up easily to readers from a range of backgrounds.”
Everything You Need to Know About Consumerism is a smart piece of nonfiction that explains where to direct your gaze in a world where the climate crisis isn’t going to be solved through KonMari and vegetarianism alone. In this profound but entertaining and engagingly written work, Thurén explains why we feel the need to consume and offers genuine answers.
The Finlandia Prize is Finland’s most prestigious literary recognition, awarded annually in three categories: the best novel, the best children’s or YA book, and the best nonfiction book of the year. The prize for each category is 30,000 euros.