The Ribbon Bow by Anu Kaaja, A Wooden Prayer by Antti Hurskainen and Harry Salmenniemi’s latest novel have been nominated for the Runeberg Prize. The winner will be announced in February 2024.
The Ribbon Bow by Anu Kaaja is a deliciously pink and proudly art-oriented novel, where a writer is looking for intellectual, physical and spiritual enjoyment in European cities in the spirit of a contemporary Grand Tour. She sits in cafés, dances in clubs, goes to meet paintings, and engages in animated conversations with objects: the soul of things should not be belittled. Anu Kaaja’s fourth book is a sensual and analytical novel, a profound and playful paean to beauty and melancholy, a work that does not distinguish between a fetish club and an art museum. It is a an inspired portrait of objectifying people and anthropomorphising objects. The Ribbon Bow is a sweet wrapped in a critique of capitalism, resulting in an amusing experience and a sharp outlook on our day and age.
Anu Kaaja is a young, award-winning author. With her debut Metamorphoslip in 2015 she was shortlisted for the Helsingin Sanomat Literature Prize. Since then, she was awarded the Kalevi Jäntti Literature Prize in 2020 and for her other works, Kaaja has been nominated for the Runeberg Prize (2017) and awarded the Toisinkoinen Literature Prize.
For A Wooden Prayer this is the fourth nomination: the book has also been nominated for the Helsingin Sanomat Prize, the Finlandia Award and is running for the Savonia Award. A Wooden Prayer follows Turtola, the verger in a little congregation and the single father of a five-year-old girl, Monika. Turtola spends his days having long conversations with the vicar and taking care of the church. Things take a rapid turn for the worse when weird occurrences start disturbing the peace of the community and Monika is diagnosed with a brain tumour. Faced with a terrible dilemma, Turtola chooses mercy, and the consequences are merciless.
The novel, published in Finland by Siltala, has been dubbed “a catechism of our time” and “a harsh novel that has little regard for curling into an armchair.” So far, the rights have been acquired in Hungary by Polar.
The Runeberg Prize is a a prestigious literary prize named after the Finnish national poet, Johan Ludvig Runeberg. It is one of the most important literary awards in Finland, second only to Finlandia Prize. The prize, worth 20,000 euros, is given out in two categories: fiction and children’s books. Last year the award went to our very own Marja Kyllönen with The Undeparted, and before that to Marisha Rasi-Koskinen with REC and for children’s fiction to Karin Erlandsson with The Night Express.
Warm congratulations to the authors, and fingers crossed!