Two HLA titles win Finlandia Prize

HLA could not be more thrilled: our authors won in two of the three categories in the competition for the most prestigious literary award of the year! 

Iida Rauma’s novel Destruction won Finlandia Prize for the best fiction book of the year; Sofia and Amanda Chanfreau’s  novel for children, A Giraffe’s Heart is Unbelievably Large, won Finlandia Junior, given to the best children’s or YA book.

Destruction came out in January 2022, instantly gaining an impressive amount of praising reviews – resulting in the first-print run selling out in a week. Swedish rights were recently sold to Rámus Förlag.

One of the strongest literary titles of the year in Finland, Destruction has brought the question about violence towards children and the societal structures supporting it a visible topic in public discussion. “No other type of violence is talked about in the same way as acts and attitudes towards children in school. Such deeds are allowed in the school environment that in the adults’ world would be subject to criminal law,” has Iida Rauma said in one of her interviews.

Destruction is a novel about school violence, discrimination and injustice. Describing the merciless consequences of school bullying, the novel becomes an extraordinary stand regarding the dynamics of discrimination of all kinds which, in Rauma’s book manifests itself as the protagonist’s complete emotional breakdown. Destruction is a fierce reading experience: the intense narration doesn’t give the reader even a minute’s break.”
– Finlandia Prize Jury

A Giraffe’s Heart if Unbelievably Large (2022)

A Giraffes’s Heart is Unbelievably Large, is a tale of longing to be part of a family, to find one’s place in the world, and to be loved as one is.

The novel is a story of childlessness and dreams that fade or morph into nightmares. Page by page, it swells with inevitable force into a horror story that firmly holds the reader in its agonizing grip. 

Whenever a ten-year-old Vega, who has always lived with her father, tries to ask about her mother, the only answer she gets is mysteries. Once a not-so-nice girlfriend starts dating her father, and Vega gets an unexpected pen pal, she decides to set out on an adventure to find out more about her mother. The book is a superb read for a child alone or for parents and children together.

The novel is now also nominated for the prestigious Runeberg Junior Prize.

“In its magical realism, the work takes us to places and moods that shimmer with something rare and fine. We see the world through the eyes of the narrator and the main characters, and captivating connections form between fantasy and reality. The narration is borne along by beautiful language, surprising transitions, and humor. Equally generous and idiosyncratic are the book’s illustrations, which carry us off to milieus we are in no hurry to leave.”
– Finlandia Junior Prize jury

Additionally, Eeva Turunen’s novel A Nice, Civilised Individual was voted readers’ favourite among the nominees.

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 in each category. 

Since 2010, at least one HLA author each year was nominated for the prize, and 7 of them ended up winning.

Winners in the category of the best novel include:
Anni Kytömäki
(Margarita, 2020)
Juha Hurme (Headland, 2017)
Jukka Viikilä (Watercolours from a Seaside City, 2016)
Riikka Pelo (Our Earthly Life, 2013)
Ulla-Lena Lundberg (Ice, 2012)
Mikko Rimminen (Red Nose Day, 2010)
Pirkko Saisio (The Red Book of Farewells, 2003)
Kari Hotakainen (The Trench Road, 2002)

Past nominees for the prize include:
Marja Kyllönen (Undeparted, 2022)
Eeva Turunen (A Nice, Civilised Individual, 2022)
Matias Riikonen (Matara, 2021)
Marjo Niemi (Hearing, 2021)
Pirkko Saisio (Passion, 2021)
Mikko Rimminen (If It Looks Like It, 2019)
Pauliina Rauhala (Harvest, 2018)
Peter Sandström (Autumn Apples, 2016)
Selja Ahava (Things that Fall from the Sky, 2015)
Anni Kytömäki (Goldheart, 2014)
Jenni Linturi (For Fatherland, 2011)
Alexandra Salmela (27, or Death makes an Artist, 2010)

Finlandia Junior Prize has been previously awarded to 5 HLA authors:

Anja Portin (Radio Popov, 2020)
Marisha Rasi-Koskinen (The Dark Side of the Sun, 2019)
Sanna Mander (The Lost Key, 2017)
Vilja-Tuulia Huotarinen (Light, Light, Light, 2011)
Tomi Kontio (Wings to the Other Side of the World, 2000)

Past nominees of the prize include
Ellen Strömberg
(We’ll Just Ride Past, 2022) 
Saara Kekäläinen & Reetta Niemensivu (Penelope and the Perilous Porridge, 2022)
Anssi & Maija Hurme (Shadowed, 2018)
Tomi Kontio & Elina Warsta (A Dog Called Cat Meets a Cat, 2019)

Congratulations to the authors!

Mäki’s Before the Birds sold to France

Merja Mäki’s bestselling novel Before the Birds, a nominee for the Torch-bearer Prize 2022, has been sold to Éditions Leduc in France.

Leduc is the French publisher of many internationally recognized authors, including Caitlin Moran, Rupi Kaur and Lucinda Riley.

The French editor Lisa Labbé stated about her new acquisition:

“We are very honored to publish Merja Mäki’s beautiful novel in our imprint “Les Ailleurs”. BEFORE THE BIRDS brings a brilliant perspective on the Winter War and the consequences for the Finnish population through an unforgettable character, a brave young woman forced to leave her home.”

Before the Birds by Merja Mäki came out in January 2022, becoming instantly readers’ and reviewers’ favourite. The novel is set in year 1940, in the Finnish Winter War. A young woman called Alli is forced to leave her home in Karelia behind, as the land is lost to Soviet Union.

After an onerous trek across Finland to the western coast she needs not only to find a home in a new cultural environment but also face an unexpected, life-changing responsibility, come to terms with the complicated relationship with her own mother, and somehow, continue to dream. 

A page-turning read, Before the Birds tells a universal story about what it feels to leave behind everything you hold dear, how to survive and live on.

The novel was recently nominated for the Torch-bearer Prize, an award given to a book with international potential.

Photo: Liisa Valonen

The jury stated about the novel:

“The novel tells a touching story about having to flee and becoming a stranger, about losing your home and possessions and having to settle in other people’s homes. […] It is a novel also for those not interested in historical or refugee stories – it is for everyone who has a home or close ones. […] In addition to depicting a refugee journey and collision of different cultures, the novel tells about blended families. […] The description of how the war affects individuals is topical everywhere, especially now. Even though you wouldn’t have to flee in freezing cold with cattle, losing your home is an experience it is easy to identify with.

The novel has been praised also in reviews. Finland’s biggest newspaper Helsingin Sanomat wrote:

“Mäki does such a vivid job leading the reader on the evacuees’ journey that one feels one is there oneself, freezing and feet covered in bloody blisters. […] The novel expands my understanding of what it means – and how it feels – to leave everything behind.”
– Helsingin Sanomat newspaper

Before the Birds has been previously sold to Sweden (Historiska Media) and Ukraine (Astrolabe).

Ellen Strömberg’s YA novel wins August Prize

Dizzying news has reached us from Sweden: We’ll Just Ride Past, a YA novel by Ellen Strömberg, was awarded the most prestigious literary prize in SwedenAugust Prize!

The novel was published jointly by Schildts & Söderströms in Finland and Rabén & Sjögren in Sweden.

The August jury motivated the nomination as follows:

We’ll Just Ride Past (2022)

With sensitivity and accuracy [Strömberg] describes the turning point of adolescence, when the fantasies about who you want to be are suddenly put into practice, friendships are put to test and first love feels both alluring and terrifying. With the greatest respect for both her readers and her characters, Ellen Strömberg gives new life to the most iconic motif in youth literature.

Ellen Strömberg (photo: Nicklas Mattsson)

The August Prize is Sweden’s biggest literary award given to a book published in Sweden and it is awarded annually in three categories: the best novel, the best children’s or YA book, and the best nonfiction book of the year. The winners receive 100,000 SEK and a bronze August statuette.

Only one author from Finland has previously been the winner of the August Prize: Monika Fagerholm received the statuette in the category of the best novel (Den amerikanska flickan), in 2005.

In We’ll Just Ride Past Strömberg captures the life of ninth-graders in that recognizable phase in life when you have a real drive to be independent and to discover and define your identity, and when friendships have a huge impact on your decisions and desires. Strömberg has a knack for portraying the emotional landscape and world view of young people in a convincing way and she masterfully depicts the anxieties and emotional turmoil teenagers face daily.

The novel is now also nominated for the most prestigious literary award in Finland, Finlandia Prize. The novel has also recently been sold to Italy.

Tune in our Literature from Finland podcast episode YOUTH, where Strömberg discussed the novel and writing for young people.

Congratulations to the author!

Anna Glad detective series sold to Norway

While some authors are celebrating award nominations, others are celebrating foreign rights deals – such as Eva Frantz, whose series about detective Anna Glad has now been acquired by Mangschou in Norway in a three-book deal!

Mangschou started in 1997 as a children’s and YA books publisher, and is currently building a strong adult list. Eva Frantz’s books are visioned as the highlight of the publisher’s upcoming crime list due to be launched next spring.

The three crime novels acquired by Mangschou – Blue Villa (2017); The Eighth Maiden (2018); and Out of the Game (2020) – have brought their author Eva Frantz a status of one of the most beloved crime writers in Finland.

The books are set in a Finnish small-town where the main protagonist, detective Anna Glad, encounters not only hideous  murders but also smaller evil deeds people are committing against each other. With a sharp eye for tensions between people, Eva Frantz succeeds in building suspense and chilling atmospheres – and a credible picture of a woman who, like most, has always a gnawing feeling of failing at some section of her life.

The Eighth Maiden won the prize for the best crime book of the year in March 2019, and it was nominated for the Nordic Glass Key Award in 2020 as the best Nordic novel, competing with such authors as Jo Nesbø.

Eva Frantz (photo: Marica Rosengard)

The novels have sold close to 60,000 copies in Finland altogether. The fourth novel in the series is due to be published in Spring 2023.

The Anna Glad books have previously been sold to Estonia, Denmark, Germany and Sweden.

Don’t forget to check out a lovely Literature from Finland podcast episode ATMOSPHERES, where Frantz discussed her characters and writing.

Congratulations to the author!

We’ll Just Ride Past sold to Italy

We are thrilled to announce the first foreign rights deal for the lauded YA novel We’ll Just Ride Past, by Ellen Strömberg: Italian rights have been acquired by Terre di Mezzo.

Mainly focusing on children’s and YA literature, the Milan-based Terre di Mezzo publishes around 100 titles a year. From Finland, they have previously published Million Billion Santa Clauses by Hiroko Motai & Marika Maijala, as well as books by Magdalena Hai and Noora Kunnas.

Published jointly by Schildts & Söderströms in Finland and Rabén & Sjögren in Sweden, We’ll Just Ride Past has been in everyone’s focus since day one, gaining praising reviews: the novel is now nominated for the most prestigious awards in both countries, August Prize in Sweden and Finlandia Prize in Finland.

Congratulations to the author for the deal!