Two HLA titles win Finlandia Prize!

HLA could not be more thrilled: both our nominees for the most important literary award of the year have won! Anni Kytömäki’s novel Margarita won Finlandia Prize for the best fiction book of the year and Anja Portin’s novel Radio Popov won Finlandia Junior, given to the best children’s and YA book.

Kytömäki’s novel Margarita portrays the destinies of forests and people in post-war Finland. It is a powerful, sensual and multilayered call to ponder the price that the building of a welfare state demands from an individual. This year’s chooser of the winner, conductor Hannu Lintu, has stated:

The language and the storytelling of the book grip the readers and carry them away. It is not only a masterful portrayal of that ground zero point where the growth of the modern Finnish society has begun, but also of the struggle of an individual in the midst of unbelievable twists and turns that this growth brings upon. The book shows that every battle – let it be war or reconstruction – claims its victims. We know that these struggles for the better future are still present today.”

In her speech, Anni Kytömäki emphasised the critical state of our world:

I have dedicated this book to the silent ones of water and earth – the ones that are in danger to be left behind in our society and in the face of [the global] ecological crisis. In my opinion, this Finlandia Prize shows that there is still room for diversity – that is, for the wide spectrum of characters and nature beings.

The winner of Finlandia Junior Prize, Anja Portin’s novel Radio Popov is a book about loneliness, friendship and the power of storytelling. A warm adventure story brings to mind such children’s literature classics as Roald Dahl and Astrid Lindgren, but at the same time is also compelling for the adult readers.

The chooser of the prize, actor Christoffer Strandberg has written in his statement:

I have always believed that a good book for children or young people is one that you can return to throughout your life, always finding new perspectives and realising that it has been at the heart of the matter all along. This is such a book. (…)

The book’s world – its time and place – fascinates me. It succeeds in being timeless while also being completely of our time. Radio Popov is a fantastical tale, but also a heart-rending story about humanity anchored in reality. The world and its people are not seen through a black-and-white filter. The parents of the forgotten children are not demonised. This is not a story about the struggle between good and evil. This is a story that focuses on the good in the small and in the large, in spite of all evil.”

Here you can read the full text of the statement.

In her speech, Anja Portin thanked the jury for the honour and talked, among other things, about the various colours of silence and the power of fiction in our everyday lives:

Literature can give space to those, whose voice disappears among noises of the world. Especially important these days feels the ability of literature to evoke compassion and show the different colours of the world, not only the black and white.

Foreign rights of Radio Popov have so far been sold to Denmark, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

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. 

Warm congratulations, Anni and Anja, their present and future readers and translators!

Previously, several other HLA’s authors have received the award in the category of the best novel, including 
Kari Hotakainen (The Trench Road, 2002)
Pirkko Saisio (The Red Letter of Farewell, 2003)
Mikko Rimminen (Red Nose Day, 2010)
Ulla-Lena Lundberg (Ice, 2012)
Riikka Pelo (Our Earthly Life, 2013)
Jukka Viikilä (Watercolours from a Seaside City, 2016) and 
Juha Hurme (Headland, 2017)

Past nominees for the prize include
Alexandra Salmela
 (27, or Death makes an Artist, 2010)
Jenni Linturi (For Fatherland, 2011)
Aki Ollikainen (White Hunger, 2012)
Anni Kytömäki (Goldheart, 2014)
Selja Ahava (Things that Fall from the Sky, 2015)
Peter Sandström (Autumn Apples, 2016)
Pauliina Rauhala (Harvest, 2018) and, once more
Mikko Rimminen (If It Looks Like It, 2019)

Finlandia Junior Prize has been previously awarded to 4 HLA authors:

Tomi Kontio (In the Spring, Dad Got Wings, 2000)
Vilja-Tuulia Huotarinen (Light, Light, Light, 2011)
Sanna Mander (The Lost Key, 2017)
Marisha Rasi-Koskinen (The Dark Side of the Sun, 2019)

Past nominees for the prize include
Anssi & Maija Hurme
(Shadowed, 2018)
Tomi Kontio & Elina Warsta (A Dog Called Cat Meets a Cat, 2019)

Runeberg Prize longlist announced

The longlist for one of the most prestigious literary awards in Finland, the Runeberg Prize, was announced, and we are excited to see our authors on it!

Among the 19 longlisted titles, The Woman Who Loved Insects by Selja Ahava, Margarita by Anni Kytömäki, REC by Marisha Rasi-Koskinen and Love Is a Tame Animal by Peter Sandström are represented by HLA.

Additionally, 5 more titles on the longlist are published by HLA’s shareholders: Adult People by Jan Forsström (Teos Publishers), Hunting Game by Ulrika Hansson (Schildts & Söderströms), Where to Go by Marko Järvikallas (Siltala), These Precious Things by Otto Lehtinen (Gummerus) and Shadow People by Jarkko Volanen (Teos Publishers).

We are also thrilled to represent three nominees of the Runeberg Junior Prize: Night Express by Karin Erlandsson & Peter Bergting, Ruby’s Secret by Vuokko Hurme and Maggan – All Year Round by Ellen Strömberg & Elin Löf.

Runeberg Prize is a prestigious literary prize named after the Finnish national poet, Johan Ludvig Runeberg. It is one of the most important literary awards in Finland in addition to the Finlandia Prize. The prize, worth 10,000 euros, is given out in two categories: fiction and children’s books. The shortlist will be announced on the 12th of December, and the winner on The Runeberg’s Day, the 5th of February 2021.

Congratulations to all the longlisted authors!

Three HLA titles nominated for Runeberg Junior Prize 2021!

We are delighted to share that three children’s titles represented by Helsinki Literary Agency are now nominated for one of the most prestigious literary awards in Finland, Runeberg Junior Prize!

The Night Express, written by Karin Erlandsson and illustrated by Peter Bergting, was described by the jury as “an enchanting, exciting and multilayered book, that takes the reader to entirely new dimensions. (…) Erlandsson deals with loss, loneliness and longing, so the book creates wonderful grounds to discuss these topics with children.”

Erlandsson has previously won the award with Pearl Fisher (2017), the first book in her children’s series The Song of the Eye Gemstone, which was also nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize, as well as Children’s Novel Prize in Sweden.

Vuokko Hurme’s new series The Hues and its first book Ruby’s Secret was described by the jury as “a masterful story about a complicated friendship. (…) It is a realistic portrayal of child’s feelings and actions, which is easy to relate to. The book is an adventurous (…), interesting and colourful story.”

Ruby’s Secret is a story about a family with the special power of controlling colours. But little Ruby no longer wants to keep secrets and be an eternal outsider. She wants to play in the yard with the other children. So she has to make an impression on her new friends – at all costs.

Maggan – Round the Year by Ellen Strömberg and Elin Löf was praised by the jury as “a warm portrayal of little Maggan’s everyday life as she starts to go to school. It an sincere story about a child’s life. which is full of big thoughts. (…) Maggan, for instance, wishes to have her own best friend – but how does one know whether a friend is the best? Strömberg hits the bull’s eye when portraying human relationships and friendships that defy generation boundaries.”

Strömberg is otherwise known as a talented adult fiction writer, who has so far published novels Chasing Water (2018) and The Itch (2019). She is also a well-known blogger in Finland.

Runeberg Prize is a prestigious literary prize named after the Finnish national poet, Johan Ludvig Runeberg. It is one of the most important literary awards in Finland in addition to the Finlandia Prize. The prize, worth 10,000 euros, is given out in two categories: fiction and children’s books. The winner will be announced on The Runeberg’s Day, the 5th of February.

Congratulations to all the nominees!

The Death of Romance sold to Sweden

Niina Mero’s debut romance novel The Death of Romance has been sold to Sekwa in Sweden.

The Death of Romance (2020)

The Death of Romance, praised among other things as “romantic entertainment to those who dread romantic entertainment”, was published in 2019 and soon turned out to be the readers’ favourite. With close to 15,000 sold copies and praising reviews, a new star had risen to the Finnish sky of commercial women’s fiction.

In the novel, Nora, the tattooed and very Finnish version of Bridget Jones, travels to Oxford to be soon swiped off her feet by the gothic atmosphere of Jane Eyre, the upper-class romance of Downton Abbey and the plotting and scheming known from British crime series. With no illusions about love but with masses of insight into English poetry, Nora soon stumbles on family secrets – and to her surprise also on English gentlemen who seem very able to distract her inquisitive mind.

Niina Mero (Photo: Marek Sabogal)

Sekwa is a Swedish publishing house specializing in translated contemporary literature. Founded in 2005, it has a strong list of well-written, entertaining and captivating literature.

Read more about the novel here and about the author here.

Radio Popov sold to Denmark

The Finlandia Junior Prize nominated Radio Popov by Anja Portin has been acquired to Denmark by Straarup & Co.

The novel has previously been sold to Estonia and Latvia.

The novel begins when a nine-year-old Alfred the Forgotten, virtually abandoned by his father, meets Amanda, a paperwoman and one of the Sharp Ears. After finding an old radio transmitter designed by a Russian physicist, A. S. Popov, Alfred starts making a secret, nightly radio broadcast for all the other forgotten children in the city.

The unforgettable adventure has been compared to Roald Dahl’s classics, where often experience mistreated children escape the poor conditions by the means of adventure and persistence.

Staarup & co. is a Danish publishing house, founded in 2017, which publishes books for children and young adults.