Helsinki Literary Agency’s top book of autumn 2023, Iida Turpeinen‘s Beasts of the Sea, has been sold to Tänapäev in Estonia. It will be published in Tänapäev’s series called The Red Book, featuring such autors as the Nobel Prize winners Annie Ernaux, Abdulrazak Gurnah and Peter Handke, as well as modern literary classics such as George Saunders, Lyudmila Ulitskaya, Hervé Le Tellier and Kurt Vonnegut. The only other title from Finland to have made it to the series before is Our Earthly Life, by Riikka Pelo.
“Beasts of the Sea is an adventurous novel about mankind and nature, one that gives food for thought. The theme running through this relatively small book is the inevitable changing of the world, which is at times tragic, but at times, strangely, also tragicomic. The novel will attract the readers of Daniel Kehlmann’s Vermessung der Welt (Measuring the World) and Richard Powers’ Overstory.”
Turpeinen’s novel was published in Finland only a few weeks ago and got a raving review in the largest newspaper of the country, Helsingin Sanomat, stating that the book is a “world-class novel” that “focuses on a single sea cow and individuals linked to it over a span of three centuries, makes the ecological ruptures and freefall of the entire world into a palpable experience”.
In 1741, naturalist and theologist Georg Wilhelm Steller joins the Great Northern Expedition, as Captain Vitus Bering and his crew scout out a sea route from Asia to America. Although they never reach the American mainland, they make a unique discovery: the Steller’s sea cow.
It is the start of a 200-year-long quest, and a story of natural diversity through individual destinies, of grand human ambitions and of the urge to resurrect what humankind in its ignorance has destroyed.
Warmest congratulations to the author!