Riikka Pelo: All that Is Alive

What really are our choices and possibilities – and what is the value of a person?

Author: Riikka Pelo
Finnish original: Kaikki elävä
Publisher: Teos, 2019
Genre: literary fiction
Number of pages: 613 pp.
Reading material: Finnish original, English sample
, English synopsis

Aura, Ellen, Alan.

The teenage girl on a perfect holiday in the sun who witnesses the cruelty of the man of her dreams. The teenager’s mother who watches over her daughter in hospital when she suffers acute aphasia. The furtive asylum-seeker who lives on the benevolence of strangers.

All three have been stripped of the most important things: the right to have a voice, the right to make a decision, the right to be able to live. What kind of sentences does Ellen use to reconnect with Aura, whose custody she has lost? What language does Aura use with Alan, who is facing deportation and whom she meets on her run-away journey? And how to understand words that are too bare and raw for anyone to hear?

All that Is Alive is a great novel about the human capacity for compassion and connection in a way that transcends everyday reality. It searches for a new voice, a new rhythm and a community where there is no need to sacrifice anything that is alive.

The novel is at its richest on the level of the language, in the intense inner monologues of the characters. […] The novel’s literary strength builds on two principles: the value of all that is alive and the power that language has when conveying this truth.” 
– Helsingin Sanomat newspaper

“Riikka Pelo’s novel is truly the garden of abundance. Her style is streams and torrents in the endless ocean of sentences; graceful and supple language flows freely and easily. Author’s observations are warm but sharp, and she demonstrates a healthy political distrust.”
Demokraatti newspaper on Our Earthly Life

Also available:
Our Earthly Life (2012)
Heaven-Bearer (2006)

About the author:
Riikka Pelo