The Natural Comedy, Endless Winter, The Ribbon Bow and A Wooden Prayer among Most Beautiful Books of the Year

Fantastic news for our authors: Ulla Donner’s The Natural Comedy, Miila Westin’s Endless Winter, Anu Kaaja‘s The Ribbon Bow and Antti Hurskainen’s A Wooden Prayer receive honorary mentions for the Most Beautiful Book of the Year Award.

Each year, the Finnish Book Art Committee selects the most beautiful books published in Finland during the previous year. One title is awarded as the Year’s Most Beautiful Book, and others, organised according to their categories, receive honorary mentions.

This year has brought our authors plenty of recognition: Ulla Donner’s The Natural Comedy, Miila Westin’s Endless Winter, Antti Hurskainen’s A Wooden Prayer and Anu Kaaja’s The Ribbon Bow received honorary mentions.

The Natural Comedy (Den Naturliga Komedin, 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 Donnertakes 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 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.

Endless Winter (Loputon Talvi, 2023)

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

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 Prizethe 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.

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.

Congratulations to the author and the publishers!