Antti Rönkä: Off the Ground

“When you run, both your feet should be off the ground between the strides.”

Author: Antti Rönkä
Finnish original: Jalat ilmassa
Publisher: Gummerus, 2019
Genre: literary fiction
Number of pages: 224 pp.
Reading material: Finnish original, English sampl
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A new town, new friends, a fresh start. Aaro is about to start his university studies. He would like to join the others for lunch and nights out but he feels unwanted and uninvited.

Even though the years spent being bullied are in the past, the shame still weighs heavy on his shoulders. The bullies’ words never let him forget how worthless, insignificant and ugly he is to other people. He can either shut the doors to the world and escape, or face his fears head on and reveal his true vulnerable self, warts and all.

Off the Ground is Antti Rönkä’s strong literary debut, long-listed for the prestigious Runeberg Prize. The novel describes the experience of shame with cutting precision, and shows how another person’s acceptance and recognition can make the weight easier to bear.

“The significance of the subject matter will not make a novel good. But Antti Rönkä’s first novel is excellent despite its loaded subject. This young man, cut to the quick, writes often shockingly but sometimes with joyous acumen. […] The no-frills novel fulfills valiantly the only quest for literature: seeing the world through someone else’s eyes.”
Helsingin Sanomat newspaper

“The book season is just about to begin, but it can already be said that Rönkä’s novel is the important debut of the year. […] It is a page-turning coming-of-age story and ambitious literature.”
– Maaseudun tulevaisuus newspaper


“All in all, Off the Ground is an excellently written debut novel. One of its strengths is the narration that is effortless and fluent.”
– Etelä-Suomen Sanomat newspaper

About the author:
Antti Rönkä