The Undeparted by Marja Kyllönen awarded prestigious Runeberg Prize

The Undeparted, the new novel by Marja Kyllönen, was awarded the prestigious Runeberg Prize, considered to be second only to Finlandia Prize; the novel was also a nominee for the latter.

According to the jury, The Undeparted is “a linguistically unique novel, which draws its dark elements from the Finnish folklore, horror and Kainuu.”

The Undeparted (2022)

The story begins in the hardscrabble north of the 1950s, when 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. 

And then a malevolent narrative voice begins to mingle with the couple’s story. Deceased, persecutor, and nightmare, an unborn spirit stuck between two worlds seeks a path back to life. Individual fates begin to warp in sinister ways.

The Undeparted is a novel glowing with a black luminosity. It 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. 

Runeberg Prize is given yearly for a literarily exceptional fiction work. The award sum is 20,000 euros. The winner is always announced and celebrated on the birthday anniversary of Finnish national poet Johan Ludwig Runeberg, the 5th of February.