Hurskainen, Kaaja and Salmenniemi nominated for the Runeberg Prize

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.

Amazing news for our fiction list: 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 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!

Death Comes For The Dead nominated for Clew of the Year Award

Death Comes For The Dead by the author duo Rainio & Rautaheimo has been nominated for the Clew of the Year Award. Even the first book in the series, The Dead Still Speak, received a nomination for the award in 2021.

Thrilling news for our fiction list: Death Comes for the Dead by Sari Rainio and Juha Rautaheimo has been nominated for the Clew of the Year Award by the Finnish Whodunnit Society.

Death Comes for the Dead (Vaeltavat Vainajat, 2021)

Death Comes for the Dead is the second volume in the series Mortui non silent series, which follows detective Ville Karila and pathologist Viola Kaario as they solve crimes in a shamelessly nostalgic atmosphere. This time a seemingly impossible case awaits, as the victim has been registered dead ten years prior to the murder. As the noose tightens around the murderer, old secrets are unveiled, and shadows from the past come for the protagonists.

Sari Rainio and Juha Rautaheimo are an author duo based in Helsinki. Rainio is the editorial director of Siltala Publishing, and Rautaheimo has worked as an investigator and investigative lead in the Violent Crimes unit for a total of forty years.

The Clew of the Year Award is a yearly award given by the Finnish Whodunnit Society to an outstanding work of crime fiction. Even the first book in the series was nominated in 2021, and the award was won by our very own The Eighth Maiden in 2020.

Warm congratulations to all nominees, and fingers crossed!

Storm and Light by Ilja Karsikas nominated for the Arvid Lydecken Prize

Storm and Light is the beautiful story of the friendship between two children who couldn’t be more different. It is Ilja Karsikas’ third book, and the nomination comes only a week after Karsikas received an honorary mention for the Rudolf Koivu Prize with his second book, The Unicorn.

We’re so excited to share that Storm and Light by llja Karsikas is a nominee for the Arvid Lydecken Prize!

Storm and Light is the story of two best friends who couldn’t be more different: one, Storm, dreams of seeing the world, while the other, Light, prefers daydreaming and imagination as means of exploration. Storm and Light is a tender story of friendship and love. The individual stories of the characters interlace, and big questions of love and human connection overlap aphoristically with shared memories of lovely summer day.

The jury have motivated their choice as follows:

Storm and Light (Myrsky ja Valo, 2023)

“A beautiful little story about two very different friends: one of them dreams of going out into the world, while the other prefers to stay at home. The work, written in a rich and poetic language is a beautiful portrait of differences and their ability to complement each other. Karsikas has written a timeless story about leaving and staying, about deep friendship that draws one back from the ends of the world.”

The Arvid Lydecken Prize has been awarded since 1969 and is assigned to an outstanding children’s book and the winner is chosen by the Finnish Children’s Books Authors’ Association.

Ilja Karsikas (b. 1978) is an illustrator and graphic designer known for his conversation-sparking children’s books. Storm and Light (spring 2023) follows several picture books, including The Unicorn (2022) and Under the Moon (2020), a collaboration with Aki-Pekka Sinikoski. In addition to his visual work, Karsikas creates music and is involved in any number of artistic projects.

Very warm congratulations to Ilja and the other nominees, and fingers crossed!

Steller’s sea cow swims to 20 language areas

The best Finnish debut of 2023 – that is, the winner of Helsingin Sanomat Literature Prize – Beasts of the Sea, has reached 20 language areas with its most recents sales to the Czech Paseka, Lithuanian Alma Littera and Albanian Muza, and an offer on the table for the Arabic rights.

The latest publishers for Iida Turpeinen’s debut Beasts of the Sea are well-known publishers from Czech Republic, Lithuania and Albania.

In Czech, the beast of the sea has swam to Paseka, the publisher of authors such as Alice Munro, Douglas Stuart, Vladimir Nabokov, Édouard Louis, and Lyudmila Ulitskaya. Paseka, known for its quality translations and emphasis on the graphic design and typesetting of its titles, has published from Finland before quite a few authors, including Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen – a co-nominee for Finlandia Prize with Iida Turpeinen – and Antti Leikas.

In Lithuania, the country’s biggest publishing house Alma Littera will be taking care of Beasts of the Sea. Their publishing house includes a high number of literary names, including Nobel Prize winners Abdulrazak Gurnah, Peter Handke, and Louise Glück. From Finland, Alma Littera has published, among others, novels by Minna Rytisalo and Tommi Kinnunen.

Iida Turpeinen
(Photo: Susanna Kekkonen)

Albanian Muza is a publishing house founded in 2019, with already an interesting list of both fiction, children’s titles and nonfiction. From Finland, Muza has already published a good number of titles, including Mia Kankimäki.

Beasts of the Sea, published in Finland by publishing house S&S, has written Finnish literary history on the international arena, as its rights were quickly sold to a dozen areas with aggressive pre-empts and in heated auctions. The international publishers at the moment are (with an Arabic offer on the table):

Albania, Muza
Catalan, Cossetània
Czech Republic, Paseka
Denmark, People’s (pre-empted)
Dutch, Singel (pre-empted)
English, MacLehose (UK) and Little, Brown (US) (pre-empted)
Estonia, Tänapäev
World French, Autrement (auction)
German, Fischer (pre-empted)
Greece, Ikaros 
Hungary, Polar
Italy, Neri Pozza (pre-empted)
Lithuania, Alma Littera 
Norway, Gyldendal (pre-empted)
Poland, Poznanskie (pre-empted)
Portuguese (in Portugal), Porto Editora
Slovenia, Mladinska
Spanish, Seix Barral (pre-empted)
Sweden, Albert Bonnier (pre-empted)

Beasts of the Sea (Elolliset, 2023)

In addition to this remarkable success abroad, the novel has already gained three nominations for literary awards, and just a bit over a week ago it took one of them and won the Helsingin Sanomat Literature Prize, given to the best debut of the year.

The novel also is a nominee for Finland’s biggest literary award, the Finlandia Prize, as well as for the Torch-bearer Prize, given to the most internationally potential Finnish novel.

The novel is a science-fueled story of extinctions with a huge marine mammal, Steller’s sea cow, as its protagonist. With her short, concise sentence and the skills of a great storyteller, Turpeinen has created a page-turning literary work is that is hugely topical despite the fact that the events of the novel take place in 18th, 19th and 20th century.

Iida Turpeinen (b. 1987) is a Helsinki-based literary scholar currently writing a dissertation on the intersection of the natural sciences and literature.

Praise for the Swedish edition of Before the Birds

Merja Mäki’s novel Before the Birds about Karelian refugees in 1940 became horribly topical with Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Now the novel has gotten its first foreign edition in Sweden – and it is on stage for the first time in Finland.

Before the Birds by Merja Mäki was published in Swedish translation in mid-October (as Innan fåglarna vänder åter, translated by Mattias Huss) by Historiska Media, a beautiful Lund-based publishing house specialising in history and novel set in historical periods.

Vi Läser (‘We Read’), a literary magazine only focusing on books and literary world, reviewed Mäki’s debut with high praise. Literary critic Yukiko Duke stated that “a couple of years ago this book was all my Finnish friends spoke about, men and women, young and old. It is now easy to understand their enthusiasm. […] It is an incredibly well narrated story of the brutality of the war and the pain of being in exile.”

Also BTJ library magazine praised the novel:

“Mäki’s novel is a great reading experience. The story is extremely well drafted, exciting – what will happen? – and is driven by a language which is as clear as spring water. In an absolutely brilliant way Before the Birds paints a picture of peoples’ fight for life in bad times.”

Out also in audio, the novel (read by actress Stina Ekblad), has been collecting glowing reviews, achieving a 4.5/5 rating.

In Finland, Before the Birds has been recently adapted into a play, currently on the scene at the Seinäjoki city theatre, with shows all throughout the winter. The play has been received with critical acclaim, praising both the acting and the fresh choreography of the play.

The title has been sold in addition to Sweden so far also to Ukraine and France. In Finland it has been a bestseller, and it is the winner of the Torch-bearer Prize in 2022. A new book by Mäki, a stand-alone novel set in the same historical setting, will come out in early 2024.