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.
HLA could not be more thrilled: both our nominees for the most important literary award of the year have won! Anni Kytömäki’s novel Margarita won Finlandia Prize for the best fiction book of the year and Anja Portin’s novel Radio Popov won Finlandia Junior, given to the best children’s and YA book.
Kytömäki’s novel Margarita portrays the destinies of forests and people in post-war Finland. It is a powerful, sensual and multilayered call to ponder the price that the building of a welfare state demands from an individual. This year’s chooser of the winner, conductor Hannu Lintu, has stated:
“The language and the storytelling of the book grip the readers and carry them away. It is not only a masterful portrayal of that ground zero point where the growth of the modern Finnish society has begun, but also of the struggle of an individual in the midst of unbelievable twists and turns that this growth brings upon. The book shows that every battle – let it be war or reconstruction – claims its victims. We know that these struggles for the better future are still present today.”
In her speech, Anni Kytömäki emphasised the critical state of our world:
“I have dedicated this book to the silent ones of water and earth – the ones that are in danger to be left behind in our society and in the face of [the global] ecological crisis. In my opinion, this Finlandia Prize shows that there is still room for diversity – that is, for the wide spectrum of characters and nature beings.“
The winner of Finlandia Junior Prize,Anja Portin’s novel Radio Popov is a book about loneliness, friendship and the power of storytelling. A warm adventure story brings to mind such children’s literature classics as Roald Dahl and Astrid Lindgren, but at the same time is also compelling for the adult readers.
The chooser of the prize, actor Christoffer Strandberg has written in his statement:
“I have always believed that a good book for children or young people is one that you can return to throughout your life, always finding new perspectives and realising that it has been at the heart of the matter all along. This is such a book. (…)
The book’s world – its time and place – fascinates me. It succeeds in being timeless while also being completely of our time. Radio Popov is a fantastical tale, but also a heart-rending story about humanity anchored in reality. The world and its people are not seen through a black-and-white filter. The parents of the forgotten children are not demonised. This is not a story about the struggle between good and evil. This is a story that focuses on the good in the small and in the large, in spite of all evil.”
In her speech, Anja Portin thanked the jury for the honour and talked, among other things, about the various colours of silence and the power of fiction in our everyday lives:
“Literature can give space to those, whose voice disappears among noises of the world. Especially important these days feels the ability of literature to evoke compassion and show the different colours of the world, not only the black and white.“
Foreign rights of Radio Popov have so far been sold to Denmark, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Finlandia Prize is the most important literary award in Finland, given annually in three categories: the best novel, the best children’s or YA book and the best nonfiction book of the year. The award sum is 30,000 euros.
Warm congratulations, Anni and Anja, their present and future readers and translators!
Runeberg Prize is a prestigious literary prize named after the Finnish national poet, Johan Ludvig Runeberg. It is one of the most important literary awards in Finland in addition to the Finlandia Prize. The prize, worth 10,000 euros, is given out in two categories: fiction and children’s books. The shortlist will be announced on the 12th of December, and the winner on The Runeberg’s Day, the 5th of February2021.
We are delighted to share that three children’s titles represented by Helsinki Literary Agency are now nominated for one of the most prestigious literary awards in Finland, Runeberg Junior Prize!
The Night Express, written by Karin Erlandsson and illustrated by Peter Bergting, was described by the jury as “an enchanting, exciting and multilayered book, that takes the reader to entirely new dimensions. (…) Erlandsson deals with loss, loneliness and longing, so the book creates wonderful grounds to discuss these topics with children.”
Vuokko Hurme’s new series The Hues and its first book Ruby’s Secretwas described by the jury as “a masterful story about a complicated friendship. (…) It is a realistic portrayal of child’s feelings and actions, which is easy to relate to. The book is an adventurous (…), interesting and colourful story.”
Ruby’s Secret is a story about a family with the special power of controlling colours. But little Ruby no longer wants to keep secrets and be an eternal outsider. She wants to play in the yard with the other children. So she has to make an impression on her new friends – at all costs.
Maggan – Round the Yearby Ellen Strömberg and Elin Löf was praised by the jury as “a warm portrayal of little Maggan’s everyday life as she starts to go to school. It an sincere story about a child’s life. which is full of big thoughts. (…) Maggan, for instance, wishes to have her own best friend – but how does one know whether a friend is the best? Strömberg hits the bull’s eye when portraying human relationships and friendships that defy generation boundaries.”
Strömberg is otherwise known as a talented adult fiction writer, who has so far published novels Chasing Water (2018) and The Itch (2019). She is also a well-known blogger in Finland.
Runeberg Prize is a prestigious literary prize named after the Finnish national poet, Johan Ludvig Runeberg. It is one of the most important literary awards in Finland in addition to the Finlandia Prize. The prize, worth 10,000 euros, is given out in two categories: fiction and children’s books. The winner will be announced on The Runeberg’s Day, the 5th of February.
Niina Mero’s debut romance novel The Death of Romance has been sold to Sekwa in Sweden.
The Death of Romance (2020)
The Death of Romance, praised among other things as “romantic entertainment to those who dread romantic entertainment”, was published in 2019 and soon turned out to be the readers’ favourite. With close to 15,000 sold copies and praising reviews, a new star had risen to the Finnish sky of commercial women’s fiction.
In the novel, Nora, the tattooed and very Finnish version of Bridget Jones, travels to Oxford to be soon swiped off her feet by the gothic atmosphere of Jane Eyre, the upper-class romance of Downton Abbey and the plotting and scheming known from British crime series. With no illusions about love but with masses of insight into English poetry, Nora soon stumbles on family secrets – and to her surprise also on English gentlemen who seem very able to distract her inquisitive mind.
Niina Mero (Photo: Marek Sabogal)
Sekwa is a Swedish publishing house specializing in translated contemporary literature. Founded in 2005, it has a strong list of well-written, entertaining and captivating literature.
Read more about the novel here and about the author here.