Before the Birds wins Torch-Bearer Prize

Merja Mäki’s lauded novel Before the Birds continues to be in the focus of our news: the book became the winner of this year’s Torch-Bearer Prize, given yearly to a title considered to have the most potential to succeed outside Finland.

The jury stated about the novel:

“The novel tells a touching story about having to flee and becoming a stranger, about losing your home and possessions and having to settle in other people’s homes. […] It is a novel also for those not interested in historical or refugee stories – it is for everyone who has a home or close ones. […] In addition to depicting a refugee journey and collision of different cultures, the novel tells about blended families. […] The description of how the war affects individuals is topical everywhere, especially now. Even though you wouldn’t have to flee in freezing cold with cattle, losing your home is an experience it is easy to identify with.

Published in January 2022, Before the Birds instantly became the readers’ and reviewers’ favourite: the novel sold over 10,000 in Finland, and foreign rights have so far been sold to 3 territories: France (Leduc); Sweden (Historiska Media); and Ukraine (Astrolabe).

HLA’s authors have been awarded the prize for the three previous years in a row: last year the prize was given to Matias Riikonen’s novel Matara; in 2020, the winner was Marisha Rasi-Koskinen’s Lynchian masterpiece REC; and Minna Rytisalo received it for her novel Mrs C.  in 2019. In 2015, the prize was given to another HLA author, Finlandia Prize winner Anni Kytömäki for her debut novel Goldheart.

Congratulations to the author!

Eeva Turunen wins Kalevi Jäntti Literature Prize

There seems to be no end to fantastic news: Eeva Turunen was awarded the Kalevi Jäntti Literature Prize, for their new novel A Nice, Civilised Individual.

Eeva Turunen (photo: Laura Malmivaara)

The Kalevi Jäntti Literature Prize is given yearly to one or several Finnish authors under the age of 40, to encourage and promote Finnish literary fiction. Each winning author is awarded the sum of 18,000 euros. Turunen shares the prize with two other authors.

The jury praised Turunen’s novel for the multilayered composition that, on the other hand, is accessible and easy to read: “[The book] represents one of the most demanding genres of prose: humorous novel. Subtly overly-proper style enchants the reader. And just as all great humorous stories, this too, ends on a melancholic note.”

Published at the end of the year, A Nice, Civilised Individual immediately gained praises from critics and readers alike: the novel was nominated for the most prestigious literary award in Finland, Finlandia Prize, and was voted as the readers’ favourite among the nominees.

In A Nice, Civilised Individual, the narrator – an architect like their Grandpa, but of a different gender and from a different age – is inundated with gentlemen’s clubs, cloth for suits, rolls of sketch paper, stencils, receipts for baked goods, and miles upon miles of ciné film. One foot in the queer margin, the narrator keeps opposing Grandpa’s conservatism, but can’t help admitting that some of the values are coursing down the generations – and that full marks are point blank unattainable, no matter how hard you try.

“Turunen’s novel is navigating between empathy and frustration at the moment of reckoning between different generations. The author has built a unity out of faultlessly apt observation, that combines humour with the everyday and, at times, a melancholy tone. The novel – written in free verse and dialogue – guides the readers to the nuance in language, the shades and feel of which Turunen makes use of in a delicious way.”
– Finlandia Prize jury

Congratulations to the author!

Korean rights for Radio Popov sold

After a short break, another deal was made for one of our most internationally successful titles of all time, Radio Popov, a children’s novel by Anja Portin. Thanks to our partner Suya Lee at AMO Agency, the Korean rights have now been sold to Dasan Books, making it the 23rd foreign rights deal for this book

Dasan is a publisher of such bestselling international authors as Lois Lowry, Julian Barnes, Fredrik Bakman, among others.

Radio Popov is an exciting and humorous, warm-hearted story about a nine-year-old called Alfred, a very lonely boy. Once he meets Amanda Lehtimaja, a woman who works for the Sharp Ears, an unforgettable adventure begins. Alfred starts making nightly radio programs that changes the lives of many forgotten children.

A story that bring to mind children’s classics of Roald Dahl and Astrid Lindgren, the novel has been lauded by critics and loved by children and their parents alike. The book was awarded Finlandia Junior, the most prestigious literary award of the year given to children’s and YA titles, in 2020.

Congratulations to the author!

Two HLA titles win Finlandia Prize

HLA could not be more thrilled: our authors won in two of the three categories in the competition for the most prestigious literary award of the year! 

Iida Rauma’s novel Destruction won Finlandia Prize for the best fiction book of the year; Sofia and Amanda Chanfreau’s  novel for children, A Giraffe’s Heart is Unbelievably Large, won Finlandia Junior, given to the best children’s or YA book.

Destruction came out in January 2022, instantly gaining an impressive amount of praising reviews – resulting in the first-print run selling out in a week. Swedish rights were recently sold to Rámus Förlag.

One of the strongest literary titles of the year in Finland, Destruction has brought the question about violence towards children and the societal structures supporting it a visible topic in public discussion. “No other type of violence is talked about in the same way as acts and attitudes towards children in school. Such deeds are allowed in the school environment that in the adults’ world would be subject to criminal law,” has Iida Rauma said in one of her interviews.

Destruction is a novel about school violence, discrimination and injustice. Describing the merciless consequences of school bullying, the novel becomes an extraordinary stand regarding the dynamics of discrimination of all kinds which, in Rauma’s book manifests itself as the protagonist’s complete emotional breakdown. Destruction is a fierce reading experience: the intense narration doesn’t give the reader even a minute’s break.”
– Finlandia Prize Jury

A Giraffe’s Heart if Unbelievably Large (2022)

A Giraffes’s Heart is Unbelievably Large, is a tale of longing to be part of a family, to find one’s place in the world, and to be loved as one is.

The novel is a story of childlessness and dreams that fade or morph into nightmares. Page by page, it swells with inevitable force into a horror story that firmly holds the reader in its agonizing grip. 

Whenever a ten-year-old Vega, who has always lived with her father, tries to ask about her mother, the only answer she gets is mysteries. Once a not-so-nice girlfriend starts dating her father, and Vega gets an unexpected pen pal, she decides to set out on an adventure to find out more about her mother. The book is a superb read for a child alone or for parents and children together.

The novel is now also nominated for the prestigious Runeberg Junior Prize.

“In its magical realism, the work takes us to places and moods that shimmer with something rare and fine. We see the world through the eyes of the narrator and the main characters, and captivating connections form between fantasy and reality. The narration is borne along by beautiful language, surprising transitions, and humor. Equally generous and idiosyncratic are the book’s illustrations, which carry us off to milieus we are in no hurry to leave.”
– Finlandia Junior Prize jury

Additionally, Eeva Turunen’s novel A Nice, Civilised Individual was voted readers’ favourite among the nominees.

Finlandia Prize is the most important literary award in Finland, given annually in three categories: the best novel, the best children’s or YA book and the best nonfiction book of the year. The award sum is 30,000 euros in each category. 

Since 2010, at least one HLA author each year was nominated for the prize, and 7 of them ended up winning.

Winners in the category of the best novel include:
Anni Kytömäki
(Margarita, 2020)
Juha Hurme (Headland, 2017)
Jukka Viikilä (Watercolours from a Seaside City, 2016)
Riikka Pelo (Our Earthly Life, 2013)
Ulla-Lena Lundberg (Ice, 2012)
Mikko Rimminen (Red Nose Day, 2010)
Pirkko Saisio (The Red Book of Farewells, 2003)
Kari Hotakainen (The Trench Road, 2002)

Past nominees for the prize include:
Marja Kyllönen (Undeparted, 2022)
Eeva Turunen (A Nice, Civilised Individual, 2022)
Matias Riikonen (Matara, 2021)
Marjo Niemi (Hearing, 2021)
Pirkko Saisio (Passion, 2021)
Mikko Rimminen (If It Looks Like It, 2019)
Pauliina Rauhala (Harvest, 2018)
Peter Sandström (Autumn Apples, 2016)
Selja Ahava (Things that Fall from the Sky, 2015)
Anni Kytömäki (Goldheart, 2014)
Jenni Linturi (For Fatherland, 2011)
Alexandra Salmela (27, or Death makes an Artist, 2010)

Finlandia Junior Prize has been previously awarded to 5 HLA authors:

Anja Portin (Radio Popov, 2020)
Marisha Rasi-Koskinen (The Dark Side of the Sun, 2019)
Sanna Mander (The Lost Key, 2017)
Vilja-Tuulia Huotarinen (Light, Light, Light, 2011)
Tomi Kontio (Wings to the Other Side of the World, 2000)

Past nominees of the prize include
Ellen Strömberg
(We’ll Just Ride Past, 2022) 
Saara Kekäläinen & Reetta Niemensivu (Penelope and the Perilous Porridge, 2022)
Anssi & Maija Hurme (Shadowed, 2018)
Tomi Kontio & Elina Warsta (A Dog Called Cat Meets a Cat, 2019)

Congratulations to the authors!

Ellen Strömberg’s YA novel wins August Prize

Dizzying news has reached us from Sweden: We’ll Just Ride Past, a YA novel by Ellen Strömberg, was awarded the most prestigious literary prize in SwedenAugust Prize!

The novel was published jointly by Schildts & Söderströms in Finland and Rabén & Sjögren in Sweden.

The August jury motivated the nomination as follows:

We’ll Just Ride Past (2022)

With sensitivity and accuracy [Strömberg] describes the turning point of adolescence, when the fantasies about who you want to be are suddenly put into practice, friendships are put to test and first love feels both alluring and terrifying. With the greatest respect for both her readers and her characters, Ellen Strömberg gives new life to the most iconic motif in youth literature.

Ellen Strömberg (photo: Nicklas Mattsson)

The August Prize is Sweden’s biggest literary award given to a book published in Sweden and it is awarded annually in three categories: the best novel, the best children’s or YA book, and the best nonfiction book of the year. The winners receive 100,000 SEK and a bronze August statuette.

Only one author from Finland has previously been the winner of the August Prize: Monika Fagerholm received the statuette in the category of the best novel (Den amerikanska flickan), in 2005.

In We’ll Just Ride Past Strömberg captures the life of ninth-graders in that recognizable phase in life when you have a real drive to be independent and to discover and define your identity, and when friendships have a huge impact on your decisions and desires. Strömberg has a knack for portraying the emotional landscape and world view of young people in a convincing way and she masterfully depicts the anxieties and emotional turmoil teenagers face daily.

The novel is now also nominated for the most prestigious literary award in Finland, Finlandia Prize. The novel has also recently been sold to Italy.

Tune in our Literature from Finland podcast episode YOUTH, where Strömberg discussed the novel and writing for young people.

Congratulations to the author!