World French rights for Matara sold in auction

We are incredibly thrilled and impatient to announce some splendid news just before the turn of the year: Matias Riikonen enjoys his first foreign rights deal for his lauded new novel Matara – and what a deal that is! World French rights for the novel have been sold in auction to the prestigious Christian Bourgois Éditeur.

Christian Bourgois Éditeur was founded in 1966 by Christian Bourgois, who was a passionate discoverer and editor of translated literature. The publishing house soon became one of the most prestigious and respected literary imprints on the French market, and over half a century Christian Bourgois managed to build one of the most beautiful foreign fiction catalogues in France, publishing writers such as Toni Morrison, Fernando Pessoa, Roberto Bolaño, Susan Sontag, César Aira, Richard Brautigan, Angela Carter, Antonio Lobo Antunes, Allen Ginsberg, Witold Gombrowicz, James Baldwin, Enrique Vila-Matas, Djuna Barnes, Paul Bowles, William Vollman, Leonard Cohen, Gregory Corso, Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac and many others.

The acquiring editor Pierre Demarty stated about Riikonen’s novel:

“MATARA is a splendor of a novel, with an incredibly strong setting, story and characters, shedding a terrific (and at times terrifying!) new light on childhood, the deadly seriousness of its rules and games, and mirroring both the cruelty and the magic of our own universal social, political and psychological structures and conventions. It is both thrilling, achingly beautiful in style, and most of all it is possessed of this “je-ne-sais-quoi” that defies all definition but is common to all great novels bound to become classics.” 

The novel has indeed been on a splendid success journey this autumn: it was nominated for the most prestigious literary award in Finland, Finlandia Prize, and won the Torch-Bearer Prize; the novel is now also nominated for another prestigious award, the Runeberg Prize.

Don’t forget to check out the short interview with the author!

Congratulations to the author for this wonderful deal!

The Dead Still Speak nominated for the Crime Novel of the Year

The nominees for the Clew of the Year – the literary award given yearly to the best crime fiction or thriller – have been announced, and HLA is thrilled to see its authors on the shortlist!

The author pair Juha Rautaheimo & Sari Rainio has made the nominees’ list with The Dead Still Speak, the first instalment in their new crime series of five detective novels Mortui non silent, in which murders are investigated by a male detective and a female medical examiner.

The award is given by the Finnish Whodunnit Society. 106 books in total were submitted this year, and 6 made it to the final shortlist. The jury stated about The Dead Still Speak:

“In this debut novel, representing Finnish cozy crime, atmosphere and surroundings are described with excellence. All the technical facts are true to reality to the smallest autopsy details, and credible and loveable characters add to the merit of the story. The novel possesses a charm of an old-school whodunnit, in a good way. ”

The winner will be announced in February 2022.

In the meantime, have a look at an interesting short interview with authors discussing their new detective book!

Three HLA authors nominated for the Runeberg Prize

The nominees for the prestigious Runeberg Prize were announced today, and we are thrilled to see three of our authors among them: Niillas Holmberg’s Halla Helle, Anneli Kanto’s The Rat Saint, and Matias Riikonen’s Matara.

Halla Helle is the first novel by the acclaimed Sámi poet Niillas Holmberg that takes the reader into cultural crossroads. It is a story about a young man Samu, who leaves Southern Finland behind and moves to Sápmi. Something strange and powerful is taking him to Utsjoki: Elle Hallala, the best-known Sámi person in Finland, known by her artist alias Halla Helle. She, however, abandons her art, withdraws from the world and moves on an arctic mountain to live her life according to her ancestors. Can Samu, a child of mainstream culture, understand the Sámi symbols and eventually, help the artist heal?

Niillas Holmberg (b. 1990) is an award-winning Sami poet, musician, actor, and cultural and environmental activist living in his native Utsjoki in Lapland. He combines spoken word with singing and joik, traditional chanting, and performs his work with various bands. Halla Helle (2021) is Holmberg’s first novel. The French rights to Halla Helle have been sold to Éditions du Seuil.

The Rat Saint is a sensory, color-saturated novel by Anneli Kanto, a master of historical fiction, in which a brickmaker’s foster daughter grows into an artist. It’s the dawn of the 16th century, and a small village in southern Finland sees the arrival of a curious trio possessing special skills and knowledge: they are church painters in an era when artists were unheard of in the remote north. As the history of the world from Paradise and the Fall to the Final Judgment takes shape on the walls of the church, romance, envy, treachery, and crime occur, and a life reaches a turning point. One story ends and another begins.

Anneli Kanto (b. 1950) is an author and screenwriter. Her debut novel, The Devil, the Count, the Witch, and the Actor (2007), was a well-received Runeberg Prize nominee. Kanto won the Kaarle award for Blood Roses (2008), a novel about the women of the Red Guard during the Finnish civil war. Her novel The Executioner (2015) was awarded the City of Tampere literary prize and nominated for the Torch-Bearer Prize.

In Matara, 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. Matias Riikonen’s fourth novel takes children seriously in a way few other works have. In Riikonen’s hands, the birdsong-filled woods of early summer and the boys’ violence and tenderness meld into superb, startling literature. At times one forgets one is reading a portrayal of boys at play; at others, one fears one is reading a description of reality.

Matias Riikonen’s (b. 1989) debut novel The Gull with Four Wings (2012) was a nominee for the Helsingin Sanomat Literature Prize. His second novel Grand Fugue and prose notebook Orbit (2017) were Toisinkoinen award nominees and awarded the Kalevi Jäntti Prize. The Night Porter’s Rounds (2019) was a nominee for the Jarkko Laine Prize. Matara (2021) is one of the most anticipated works of 2021.

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, second only to Finlandia Prize. The prize, worth 20,000 euros, is given out in two categories: fiction and children’s books. Matias and Everything that was Far Away by Anja Portin and Sanna Pelliccioni is among the nominees for the Runeberg Junior. The winners will be announced on The Runeberg’s Day, the 5th of February 2022.

Congratulations to all the nominees!

Matara wins the Torch-Bearer Prize

One of the biggest highlights on HLA’s catalogue this season, novel Matara by the young rising star Matias Riikonen, has been awarded the prestigious Torch-Bearer Prize!

The Torch-Bearer Prize is given yearly to a title considered to have the most potential to succeed outside Finland.

The jury has stated about the novel:

“In Matara, all the opportunities that fiction provides are used in full. The deeper the reader dives into the seemingly real world of the novel, the more dream-like it feels. Children talk just like grown-ups; the neighbourhood forest proves to be an endless wilderness. A completely new world is born with its own rules and laws, possessing a tremendous immersive power.”

Matara is a story about boys’ games gone an inch too seriously. In the novel, 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.

The novel was also nominated for the most prestigious literary award in the country, Finlandia Prize.

HLA’s authors have been awarded the prize for the two previous years in a row: Minna Rytisalo received it for her novel Mrs C. in 2019, and last year, the winner was Marisha Rasi-Koskinen’s Lynchian masterpiece REC. In 2015, the prize was given to another HLA author, Finlandia Prize winner Anni Kytömäki for her debut novel Goldheart.