Two HLA authors win awards again: Runeberg Prize to Marjo Niemi, Runeberg Junior Prize to Karin Erlandsson

Marjo Niemi’s MOTHER OF ALL LOSSES, described as a frantic monologue about shame, has been awarded with the Runeberg Prize, often considered Finland’s second most important literary prize.

Karin Erlandsson’s THE PEARL FISHER, a children’s novel set in a magical underwater world, has won the Runeberg Junior Prize, given to the best children’s title of the year.

Just in December HLA authors won the biggest literary awards in Finland, Finlandia, also in the fiction and junior categories.



The Mother of All Losses (2017)

MOTHER OF ALL LOSSES is a book about shame. It is a journey back to the main character’s childhood – a journey built inside a frenzied, intense monologue addressed to her mother, about her mother and about everything that has resulted from that early relationship too: her own life and family.

The Runeberg Prize board says the novel “is great literature, set in multiple stages and parallel worlds. By bringing the reader apart from the monologue at times the novel opens up beautifully to new interpretations, and all the performative elements from the relationships to the ones close to us surface from the narration through the skillfully written spoken monologue. Dark humor […] is the genre played on the stage of the novel, and it carries the main character slowly towards a purgative understanding of herself.”

Marjo Niemi (b. 1978) is a Helsinki-based writer, playwright and director. Her debut novel The Run  (2004) was awarded the Tiiliskivi Prize. Her second novel Why the Light? (2008) was shortlisted for the Runeberg Prize. Her third novel, A Cannibal’s Friendship  (2012), provides an intense look at European wealth and guilt. In addition to the novels Niemi has written several plays, contributed to a collaborative fiction work and been a soloist in a spoken word band.

The novel was published by Teos Publishers.


The Pearl Fisher (2017)

THE PEARL FISHER is a story set in a world in which colorful pearls are the most important currency. Miranda is the most skillful pearl fisher of all, and she believes she can find the pearl that everyone wants: the mythical eye gemstone. It’s been said that the one who finds this precious stone will never have to want for anything again, and generation after generation people have left their families to find it.

But when a babbling little girl Syrsa comes along to the hunt the adventure takes suddenly a dangerous turn. In the end Miranda has to decide what she really wants –and what is truly important in life.

The novel was chosen as the winner of a children’s novel competition organized by Schildts & Söderströms Publishers in 2016. The story of the eye gemstone will grow to a four-book series.

Karin Erlandsson (b. 1978) works as a culture reporter in Åland. Her first novel Mink Farm (2014) was shortlisted for the Nordic Council Literature Prize. Misdeed (2016) was her first crime novel, and The Pearl Fisher her first children’s novel.

The novel was published in Swedish by Schildts & Söderströms and in Finnish by Kustantamo S&S.


Runeberg Prize is a prestigeous literary prize named after the Finnish national poet, Johan Ludvig Runeberg. It is one of the most important literary prizes in Finland in addition to the Finlandia Prize.

Helsinki Literary Agency started at the beginning of 2017 as a joint venture of three independent Finnish publishing houses: Gummerus, Teos Publishers and Schildts & Söderströms. The agency’s authors won in December 2017 the biggest literary award in Finland, Finlandia, in both the fiction category (Juha Hurme: THE HEADLAND) and the junior literature category (Sanna Mander: THE LOST KEY).