Each year, Suomen kuvalehti newspaper announces a list of most interesting books of the year. HLA is thrilled to see several of its titles on the list!
InUnder the Moon written by Aki-Pekka Sinikoski and illustrated by Ilja Karsikas, the mumhas flown to the moon and the dad has changed workplaces from circus to post. The little child is happy to stay at home alone, as he then can be whatever he likes to be. Sadness in this book is dealt with in an incredibly beautiful and comforting way, blending it with the zest for life and adventures. One day, while taking his bath, the child dives under water and discovers an island, where he meets new friends and learns new, exciting things. Sinikoski’s text is full of philosophical reflections, and Karsikas’s dreamy and warm watercolour illustrations brings the text to life through fantastical characters and landscapes.
Anu Kaaja’s Katie-Kate is an outrageously grotesque novel about the Cinderella stories that the media offers us as well as dull, empty marriages that are filled with ideas about royalties, celebrities and porn stars. Kaaja’s book is a critical analysis of our society and time where Disney princesses, royal brides and topless starlets have more in common than one might think.
Finlandia Prize winner Margarita by Anni Kytömäki is a novel about a post-war country that is not unlike the one of today. The birth rate is low, and women are blamed and shamed for their personal choices. The increase of the economical welfare is at odds with protecting forests and environment in general. On top of all, deadly diseases are spreading, putting the people in danger and fear.
Marisha Rasi-Koskinen’s novel REC is a story about a possessive, even dangerous relationship. Lucas and Cole like to take pictures. Cole tells about his twin brother Nik that is held in a family basement. After a while, it becomes unclear if Nik really exists. The second part of the book is a collection of pictures and films, that take the reader to ten different stories. The novel is so restless and mysterious that it feels not at all unlikely that the pages would have a totally different story written on them the second time you read it. REC makes the world a little more magical place to live in.
Sekwa is a Swedish publishing house specialising in translated contemporary literature. Founded in 2005, it has a strong list of well-written, entertaining and captivating literature.
One of the major newspapers in Finland, Hufvudstadsbladet, has stated about The Blue Villa:
“Last year, Eva Frantz proved her significant talent as a cozy crime fiction author with her book Summer Isle. […] In The BlueVilla she has taken a further step in combining premeditated horrors with the aptly portrayed everyday life. […] She has limitless skill in describing petty crime – from just-about legal malice and revenge to browbeating your family with shitty behaviour.”
About The Eighth Maiden, the paper has stated:
“The crime plot is skillfully intertwined with a moral core. (…) Frantz is prompt and manages to capture something that is puzzling and frightening at the same time. (…) The Eighth Maiden explores the themes of abuse and sexual exploitation of young people, as well as the vicious culture of physical abuse that flourishes everywhere where there is money and power.”
Finlandia Junior Prize winning RADIO POPOV by Anja Portin is getting a huge amount of attention, with an ongoing auction in Russia and an offer from Italy on the table.
Only a week has passed from the Finlandia Junior Prize celebration where Anja Portin’s middle-grade novel RADIO POPOV was awarded as the best children’s book of 2020, and the book has already found its way to the hearts of many European children’s book publishers. The rights of the warm-hearted adventure story, compared to such classics as Roald Dahl and Astrid Lindgren, has been so far sold to
Bulgaria, Perseus Denmark, Staarup & co. Estonia, Ühinenud ajakirjad Latvia, Janis Roze Lithuania, Alma littera Netherlands, Ploegsma.
And there is more to come, as there is an ongoing auction in Russia and a fresh offer from Italy on the table – and loads of interest from other areas!
You can read more about the book here, and more about the author here.
Anu Kaaja’s latest novel Katie-Kate(2020) has been awarded Kalevi Jäntti Prize 2020.
The jury stated: “Anu Kaaja’s Katie-Kate confuses even the most hard-core readers. What is the meaning of this provocative porn novel? What right has the author have to rub all this vocabulary, these images and this kind of material on our faces? Why should we get interested in a collage which combines princess fairy tales, celebrity culture and internet porn?
Anu Kaaja’s disturbing novel requires concentrating and overcoming the urge to reject it, but little by little it shows its integrity. An angry, feminist analysis of class and gender arise from the obscene carnivalism. Katie-Katie is, no doubt, an intellectual manifestation against the patriarchy, but what makes it an interesting novel is the sovereign and unscrupulous way it makes different genres collide with one another. The result is a sharp mixture, in which the most important ingredient is humour, sometimes incorrect and self-conscious. Katie-Kate is an outstanding, bold and original novel.”
In Katie-Kate, the stories of Kate Middleton, Katie Price and Princess Diana intertwine with main stream porn. A sharp societal analysis reveals a world in which Disney owns nostalgy, Pornhub owns lust and independent women choose to be enslaved princesses.
Kaaja says she’s grown up in an age when the roles women play in media have changed a lot in a short time. “The strong female characters that have become visible in entertainment have not shifted the focus from the looks and appearances. In Katie-Kate I deal with learned misogyny, the work it takes to maintain good looks, ‘Disney brainwashing’ and my mixed relationship with marriage as an institution.”
Anu Kaaja (b. 1984) is an author and scriptwriter. Her debut novel Metamorphoslip(2015) was awarded with Jarkko Laine Prize and nominated for Helsingin Sanomat Literary Award. Her second novel Leda(2017) won Toisinkoinen literature prize and was nominaterd for Runeberg Award.
November is ending with one more exciting success: author Marisha Rasi-Koskinen was awarded Torch-Bearer Prize for her new novel REC!
Torch-Bearer Prize, otherwise called the Finnish Literary Export Award, is given every year to a title that is believed to have the most potential to succeed abroad. The award sum is 5000 euros.
As the jury and its chairman Kjell Westö stated about the book:
“The novel masterfully plays with various levels of time and place, the storytelling, as well as concepts of images and filming. The book is extraordinary in its abundance of internal stories that form the whole. The centre of it is a friendship that starts at a young age and involves many mysteries, addictions and traumas.“
REC is an atmospheric, post-modern dive into the fragmented reality we are living today. When teenager Lucas meets a peculiar boy named Cole, it is a start of a decades-long on-and-off friendship, where real and fictional characters are present simultaneously, where images and stories begin many times, in various places, and where dark, possessive and manipulating side of humans take over with irrevocable outcomes – unless… nothing is true. As the author herself describes the book, “it is a love letter to fiction”, where the reality is not unambiguous and the understanding of it is rather formed in people’s minds, stories and images.
Marisha Rasi-Koskinen has published six works of fiction. In 2019, her first YA book The Dark Side of the Sunwon the most prestigious literary prize of the year, Finlandia Junior.