The Natural Comedy by Ulla Donner, The Ribbon Bow by Anu Kaaja and more HLA authors nominated for The Most Beautiful Book of 2023

The Ribbon Bow by Anu Kaaja, A Wooden Prayer by Antti Hurskainen, The Natural Comedy by Ulla Donner, Storm and Light by Ilja Karsikas and Endless Winter by Miila Westin are nominated for the Most Beautiful Book of 2023.

We may be a bit biased when saying that our books are absolutely beautiful, but it seems that the Finnish Book Art Committee agree: The Ribbon Bow by Anu Kaaja, A Wooden Prayer by Antti Hurskainen, The Natural Comedy by Ulla Donner, Storm and Light by Ilja Karsikas and Endless Winter by Miila Westin are nominated for the Most Beautiful Book Award 2023.

The Natural Comedy is Finlandia Comics award winner Ulla Donner’s third work, published in Finland by Schildts & Söderströms and distributed in Sweden by Galago. In The Natural Comedy, Ulla Donner takes readers on a Dantean road trip in a Finnish forest, or rather what is left of it after mankind has wrought havoc on it.

The Natural Comedy by Ulla Donner (Den Naturliga Komedin, 2023)

It is autumn and Birch the birch leaf is floating away from its forest tribe and runs into Candy, a mixed mushroom who’s just suffered a breakup. In Dantean fashion, the two roam through artificially modified natural reserves, coming across the ancient, grimy Mother Nature, a wellness cult headed by a Kombucha mushroom, as well as other woodland dwellers forced to adapt to their new habitats. 

The sylvan fairytale grows into a hilarious satire about the Finns’ “special” relationship with nature. It is a tale about a society in which nature is subordinate to the human pursuit of profit and in which heaven and hell are only separated by how well each species manages to fit around people’s needs. The author also touches on xenophobia, comical features of young people’s dating rituals, and the societal terror of old age and hagsploitation in her characteristically wry manner. The Natural Comedy has been collecting glowing reviews in both Finland and Sweden, by critics and readers alike.

The Ribbon Bow (Rusetti, 2023)

The Ribbon Bow by Anu Kaaja, published in Finland by Kustantamo S&S, is nominated for the stunning work of its graphic designer Jenni Saari. The title is also nominated for the Adlibris Award and was one of this year’s nominees for the Runeberg Prize. It follows a heartbroken writer who sets out on a European trip in the style of the Grand Tour, visiting museums and enjoying art. The writer’s wanderings bring a fresh, at times irreverent perspective on some of the world’s most famous works of art and is a razor-sharp criticism of capitalism and the objectification of humans at the expense of the humanisation of objects. Everyday objects, like a bow, a coffee cup and a napkin, come to life and engage in conversation, while the human characters are difficult to reach and even harder to let go of.

A Wooden Prayer (Suntio, 2023)

A Wooden Prayer by Antti Hurskainen is published in Finland by Siltala and is nominated for its cover designed by graphic designer Aleksi Salokannel. A Wooden Prayer was also nominated for the Finlandia Prize, the Runeberg Prize, the Savonia Award and the Torch-Bearer Prize.
A Wooden Prayer follows Turtola, the verger  in a small congregation in the countryside. He spends his days sawing wood, raking the churchyard, praying, and taking his five-year-old daughter Monika to the nursery.  Sirén, the vicar, is getting more and more dependent on alcohol whilst trying to write his doctorate and tolerate God’s silence. But then, Monika’s health takes a turn for the worse and Turtola is abruptly faced with an impossible choice. Turtola chooses mercy, and the consequences are merciless, resulting in a novel that asks big and difficult questions about ethos, life, death and religion. 

The rights have been so far been sold to Denmark and Hungary.

Storm and Light (Myrsky ja Valo, 2023)

Storm and Light by Ilja Karsikas is a stunning, colourful and heart-warming illustrated book for children about the friendship between Storm and Light, who are complete opposites: Storm dreams of seeing the world, while Light prefers daydreaming and imagination as means of exploration.
Storm and Light was also nominated for the Arvid Lydecken Prize. Ilja Karsikas‘ other works have already travelled to South Korea and Estonia.

Endless Winter is the first volume in the Mythical Trilogy by Miila Westin, known for her illustrations of award-winning Radio Popov.

Endless Winter (Loputon Talvi, 2023)

In Endless Winter, it’s June and there’s a snowstorm. Nature has gone haywire, and no one knows what to do. Returning home from the funeral of her grandfather, 10-year-old Eevi runs into the guardian elf of barley. Eevi finds out the mystery behind the strange weather, and that if something isn’t done soon, winter will last forever: Eevi is thus drawn into a magical adventure with a group of elves.

Their mission is to free the awakener of spring, whom the powerful and evil Kalevala witch Louhi has imprisoned in the Underworld. On the journey, Eevi encounters various magical creatures, gets lost in the forest and finally slips through a crack into the Underworld.

Endless Winter begins the Mythical Trilogy, a series of graphic novels that introduces ancient Balto-Finnic folklore to children. The second book Dangerous Dreams will be out in spring 2024. 

The winners will be announced in March 2024. Congratulations to our beautiful nominees, and fingers crossed!

Destruction by Iida Rauma sold to Denmark, Hungarian offer on the table

Destruction by Iida Rauma is travelling to Denmark, marking the 2nd foreign deal for this ground-breaking work. The Danish rights for the title have been acquired by Jensen & Dalgaard, and there is an offer for the Hungarian rights on the table.

Destruction (Hävitys, 2022)

Destruction by Iida Rauma, the winner of the Finlandia Prize in 2022, has been sold to Denmark, where it will be published by Jensen & Dalgaard, and there is currently an offer from Hungary on the table.

This marks the second foreign deal for this title, whose Swedish edition is due in spring 2024.

Destruction by Iida Rauma quickly caught critics’ and readers’ attention in early 2022 thanks to its combination of a strong and captivating literary voice, an impressive thematic depth and its ability to bring to the fore a social issue often overlooked. In Destruction, Iida Rauma turns the spotlight onto school bullying, and how different rules apply to discrimination and violence when faced by a child rather than by an adult.

Author Iida Rauma

The book follows A, a young teacher and bullying survivor, whose past catches up with her during a nightly jog around the city of Turku. A familiar figure triggers a series of memories and events that take A on a deep dive into the personal destruction she escaped, into the collective destruction suffered by her city in the past, and the one suffered by our planet’s ecosystem right now.

Destruction has been reviewed as “a dazzling demonstration of art’s potential to expose societal structures” by Turun Sanomat newspaper, highlighting its extraordinary ability to span from local to global, from the experience of a single individual to phenomena that affect the world as a whole. Destruction is Rauma’s third novel, preceded by The Book of Disappearances and On Sex and Mathematics.

Helsingin Sanomat newspaper review

Jensen & Dalgaard is a Danish independent publisher whose list is the home of many award-winning Finnish authors, among whom Matias Riikonen and Runeberg Prize nominee Anu Kaaja.

Warmest congratulations to the author, and don’t miss out on this title!

French edition of Halla-Helle by Niillas Holmberg soon available

Halla Helle, the first novel by Sami poet and activist Niillas Holmberg, will be available in French on February 16th in a gorgeous edition by Editions du Seuil.

La Femme grenouille (Halla Helle, 2021)

Halla Helle, the first novel by Niillas Holmberg, is the first novel published in decades that is written by a Sámi author dealing with Sámi identity and culture. Critically acclaimed in Finland, where it was reviewed as “The Magic Mountain of Sámi culture”, its French rights were acquired by Editions du Seuil, who are releasing the French edition on February 16th with the title La Femme grenouille in a translation by Sébastien Cagnoli.

In Halla Helle, a Finnish man named Samu leaves Southern Finland behind and moves to Sápmi. Something strange and powerful is taking him to Utsjoki: Elle Hallala, the best-known Sámi person in Finland, known by her artist alias Halla Helle. Having abandoned art, Elle withdraws from the world and moves on an arctic mountain to live her life according to her ancestors. She sends Samu her dreams written in poems. Freud and Jung come to Samu’s aid in interpreting Elle’s dreams in order to help her.

Author Niillas Holmberg

Niillas Holmberg (b. 1990) is a Sámi poet, musician, actor, and cultural and environmental activist living in his native Utsjoki in Lapland. He combines spoken word with singing and joik, traditional chanting, and performs his work with various bands. His poetry collection Lest the Weird Become Weirder (Amas amas amasmuvvat, 2014) was awarded the Saami Council’s Prize for Literature and was shortlisted for the Nordic Council Literature Prize. Also his latest collection Underfoot (Juolgevuod¯d¯u, 2019) was nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize and has travelled to Estonia and Germany.

Le Seuil is a well-established publishing house, with a publishing history dating back to 1935. Nowadays, it is dedicated to represent as diverse literature as possible: French and translated fiction and nonfiction, thrillers, books on human sciences and philosophy, children’s and YA literature.

If you’re looking for more ways to celebrate the Sámi National Day today, don’t forget about the Literature from Finland podcast episode INDIGENOUS, where Niillas discussed his childhood in the Sámi community, his activism and creative work.

Body Of Evidence by Susanna Hast sold to Germany

Body of Evidence by Susanna Hast, the winner of the Helsingin Sanomat Literature Prize for the best debut in 2022, is travelling to Germany, where it will be published by Nautilus.

The Body of Evidence (Ruumis/huoneet, 2022)

Body of Evidence, Susanna Hast’s award-winning debut, is now travelling to Germany, where it will be published by Nautilus.

Susanna Hast’s intimately personal debut novel Body of Evidence shows how bodies remember things language cannot reach. It is a ferocious, fearless and dazzlingly intelligent account about the history of silencing women. Her survival takes place in the chiasm of remembering and forgetting, and the novel shakes its readers to the core.

It all starts in the 1990s, in a small village up north. There is a terraced house, a block of flats, a bedroom, a bathroom, a living room. A crime has been committed, but no one has called the police, no evidence is gathered, suspects are not questioned. Years later, a woman starts following traces on the fringes of her memory, so as to find the missing archival truth of what happened to her. She needs to write out the truth in order to regain her humanity.

Susanna Hast. Kuva: Miikka Pirinen / S&S

In 2022, the novel was awarded the Helsingin Sanomat Literature Prize, with the head of the jury Antti Majander stating that “with her work, Hast brought autotheoretical literature to Finland”. Hast’s prose has been compared to Maggie Nelson’s genre-defying prose and to In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado.

Author Susanna Hast (b. 1981) has a doctorate in Social Sciences. She works as a researcher and Associate Professor at Uniarts Helsinki. She has researched war, compassion and corporality.

Nautilus is an independent publishing house founded in 1974 and located in Hamburg. Edition Nautilus publishes fiction and political non-fiction as well as biographies and a small art-series named »Die Kleine Bücherei«. Among their author are Maurizio Maggiani, Leonora Carrington, Sven Recker and Anne Emmert.

Warm congratulations to the author and the publisher!