Before the Birds wins Torch-Bearer Prize

Merja Mäki’s lauded novel Before the Birds continues to be in the focus of our news: the book became the winner of this year’s Torch-Bearer Prize, given yearly to a title considered to have the most potential to succeed outside Finland.

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.

Published in January 2022, Before the Birds instantly became the readers’ and reviewers’ favourite: the novel sold over 10,000 in Finland, and foreign rights have so far been sold to 3 territories: France (Leduc); Sweden (Historiska Media); and Ukraine (Astrolabe).

HLA’s authors have been awarded the prize for the three previous years in a row: last year the prize was given to Matias Riikonen’s novel Matara; in 2020, the winner was Marisha Rasi-Koskinen’s Lynchian masterpiece REC; and Minna Rytisalo received it for her novel Mrs C.  in 2019. In 2015, the prize was given to another HLA author, Finlandia Prize winner Anni Kytömäki for her debut novel Goldheart.

Congratulations to the author!