Finally, the day crowning the most exciting week in the Finnish literary world has arrived: the nominees for the most prestigious literary award in the country, Finlandia Prize for Fiction, have been announced!
HLA is proud and excited to represent 3 authors among the 6 nominees: Iida Rauma, nominated for her novel Destruction; Eeva Turunen, nominated for her novel A Nice, Civilised Individual; and Marja Kyllönen, nominated for her novel The Undeparted.
Iida Rauma’s third novel Destruction came out in January 2022, instantly gaining an impressive amount of praising reviews – resulting to 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
Iida Rauma’s (b. 1984) debut novel The Book of Disappearances was published in 2011 and nominated for the Helsingin Sanomat Literature Prize. Her 2015 novel On Sex and Mathematics was nominated for the European Union Prize for Literature and won both the Kalevi Jäntti Prize and the Torch-Bearer Prize. Rauma has a master’s degree in political science with a specialization in political history.
The Undeparted, the new novel by Marja Kyllönen, glows with black luminosity. In the hardscrabble north of the 1950s, Rauno loses his heart to the girl from the neighboring farm, Laimi Inari. The young couple’s forbidden love is sweet, but the happiness they anticipate never manifests. They remain childless, and year by year the flame fades.
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.
“At the heart of Kyllönen’s novel is a masterful and potent idiom that knits itself into the work’s dreamlike world. The Undeparted is a plunge into cross-generational guilt, envy, and silence that erupt to the surface through the desperate individual acts. A novel of extraordinary expressive force, it seduces and dupes the reader until the end. While sowing fear, it still offers the possibility of hope.”
– Finlandia Prize Jury
Aside from The Undeparted, Marja Kyllönen (b. 1975) has published two more novels: Leaded Loins (1997), which won the Helsingin Sanomat Literary Prize for best debut of the year, and Violations (2001). Her radio play Silent Partner (2010) was selected as Finland’s nominee for the Prix Italia.
What is there to do when after your dear Grandpa’s death you’ve got to empty his house, choose an urn and organise a funeral? And what if, meanwhile, your long-term relationship is heading for a crisis and your so-called professional life also wants its fair share?
In A Nice, Civilised Individual by Eeva Turunen, the narrator – an architect like their Grandpa, but of a different gender and from a different age – is inundated with gentlemen’s clubs, cloth for suits, rolls of sketch paper, stencils, receipts for baked goods, and miles upon miles of ciné film. One foot in the queer margin, the narrator keeps opposing Grandpa’s conservatism, but can’t help admitting that some of the values are coursing down the generations – and that full marks are point blank unattainable, no matter how hard you try.
“Turunen’s novel is navigating between empathy and frustration at the moment of reckoning between different generations. She has built a unity out of faultlessly apt observation, that combines humour with the everyday and, at times, a melancholy tone. Her novel – written in free verse and dialogue – guides the readers to the nuance in language, the shades and feel of which Turunen makes use of in a delicious way.”
– Finlandia Prize jury
Eeva Turunen (b. 1983) is an architect and playwright. Her first novel, Ms U Reminisces about Her So-Called Relationship History (2018), was praised for its gentle, neurotic humour. It received Helsingin Sanomat Literature Prize as the best debut of the year, and it was and shortlisted for the Runeberg Prize in 2019.
Finlandia Prize is the most prestigious literary award in Finland, given out yearly in three categories: fiction, nonfiction, and children’s & YA literature. The award sum is 30,000 euros.
Congratulations to all the authors for the nomination!