Selja Ahava: The Day the Whale Swam through London

Nominee for the Helsingin Sanomat Literary Prize
Winner of Laura Hirvisaari Prize

A magical novel about being lost and trying to find the way.

Author: Selja Ahava
Finnish original: Eksyneen muistikirja
Publisher: Gummerus, 2010
Genre: literary fiction
Number of pages: 203 pp.
Reading material: Finnish original, German translation, English sample
Rights sold: Germany, Mare Verlag; Korea, Munhakdongne

Anna’s memory has shattered, and so has the time. She looks with wonder at the countless pieces of which her life consists, taking them in one at a time. She goes through her days detached from those close to her, detached from her surroundings.

There is the island and the sea, a familiar landscape, and there is Antti, her husband. When he dies in a car accident, Anna’s journey through time and different places begins. She tries to settle down in London, and for a while the metropolis seems to give room for a stranger alienated from others and from herself. But Anna is permanently lost in her own mind, disappearing from herself.

The Day the Whale Swam through London  uses magical realism, fantasy and even gentle comedy in diving into a world of a person suffering from memory disorders. To Anna, however, losing her memories is a daily tragedy. Bravely and with determination she still tries to reach her own essence and humanity, the ability to live with others.

“A touching novel, finely-woven and narrated with clarity and precision.”
– Badische Zeitung

Also available:
The Woman Who Loved Insects (2020)
Before My Husband Disappears (Ennen kuin mieheni katoaa, 2017)
Things That Fall from the Sky (Taivaalta tippuvat asiat, 2015)

About the author:
Selja Ahava