Pirkko Saisio’s Helsinki Trilogy Swedish rights sold to Förlaget M

Pirkko Saisio’s iconic Helsinki Trilogy continues its journey into the world: the Swedish rights have been sold to Förlaget M. The trilogy made Saisio the first living Finnish author to be included in the Penguin Modern Classics.

The Helsinki Trilogy by Pirkko Saisio, the grand dame of the Finnish literary and dramatic scene, is continuing its journey into the world: Förlaget M has acquired the Swedish rights to the trilogy in a three-book deal.

The Helsinki Trilogy consists of The Lowest Common Multiple, The Backlight, and The Red Book of Farewells. Pirkko Saisio’s autofictional trilogy carries the reader through the childhood, adolescence and adulthood of a girl who wanted to be a boy and started calling herself “her” when she was eight years of age.

The Helsinki Trilogy by Pirkko Saisio

The trilogy starts with The Lowest Common Multiple (1998). In the beginning of the novel, the main character, “she”, is already a middle-aged mother. When her father dies, things get shoved o their place. Her memories take her back to her childhood in the 1950s – to a story, which is also about to change.

In the second novel, The Backlight (2000), it is 1968, and the main character is travelling to Switzerland to work in an orphanage. With episodes from her grammar school years, the reader follows her navigating the conflict between a leftist upbringing, Christianity, and her awakening sexuality.

The Red Book of Farewells (2003) starts in the politically turbulent 1970s. The main character begins her studies in the Theatre Academy, falls in love with a woman, and enters an adult life where there are to be farewells every now and then.

The strong themes of the trilogy – the relationship between an individual and the society, sexuality and being queer, and finding your voice – are told in a fragmentary, lyrical style, descriptive of Saisio. As the background, there is Helsinki, changing as the decades go by.

The trilogy made history in January 2024 when Penguin acquired it in a three-book deal which will make Saisio the first living Finnish author to be included in the Penguin Modern Classics. The trilogy is out in German with Klett-Cotta, in French with Robert Laffont and will be a top title on its release with Host in Czech and De Geus in Dutch.

Förlaget M is a Helsinki-based Swedish-language publishing house founded in 2015. Publishing about 25 titles a year, ranging from fiction all the way to children’s books and non-fiction, Förlaget M has rapidly become the home of many successful Finnish titles published in Swedish. The publishing house strives to foster reading and cultural diversity, and they distribute in both Finland and Sweden.

Congratulations to the author and the publisher!