Author: Iida Turpeinen
Finnish original: Elolliset
Publisher: S&S, 2023
Genre: literary fiction
Number of pages: 297 pp.
Reading material: Finnish original, English sample, English synopsis, German sample
Rights sold: Albania, Muza; Arabic (on the table); Catalan, Cossetània; Czech Republic, Paseka; Denmark, People’s; Dutch, Singel Publishers; world English, MacLehose & Little, Brown; Estonia, Tänapäev; French, Autrement (Flammarion); German, Fischer; Greece, Ikaros; Hungary, Polar; Italian, Neri Pozza; Lithuania, Alma Littera; Norway, Gyldendal; Poland, Poznanskie; Portuguese (in Portugal), Porto Editora; Slovenia, Mladinska; Spanish, Seix Barral (Planeta); Sweden, Albert Bonniers
A spellbinding story of long-gone species and human destinies.
In 1741, naturalist and theologist Georg Wilhelm Steller joins the Great Northern Expedition, as Captain Vitus Bering and his crew scout out a sea route from Asia to America. Although they never reach the American mainland, they make a unique discovery: the Steller’s sea cow.
In 1859, Hampus Furuhjelm, the Finnish governor of the Russian territory of Alaska, sends his men to seek the skeleton of this massive marine mammal, rumored to have vanished a hundred years before.
In 1952, John Grönvall, a restorer at what is now the Finnish Museum of Natural History, is assigned the task of refurbishing the skeleton of the Steller’s sea cow, which by now is extinct.
Beasts of the Sea is a literary achievement and a breathtaking adventure through three centuries. Approaching natural diversity through individual destinies, it’s a story of grand human ambitions and the urge to resurrect what humankind in its ignorance has destroyed.
“Iida Turpeinen has written an important European novel. […] Turpeinen’s debut novel, Beasts of the Sea, which focuses on a single sea cow and individuals linked to it over a span of three centuries, makes the ecological ruptures and freefall of the entire world a palpable experience. […] This science-fueled book will move you and have you holding your breath.”
– Helsingin Sanomat newspaper
The novel is the winner of the best debut award, the Helsingin Sanomat Literature Prize, and a nominee for Finland’s biggest literary award, the Finlandia Prize, as well as for the Torch-bearer Prize. Its international breakthrough has been acknowledged for example by the Bookseller.
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