Eeva Turunen: A Nice, Civilised Individual

Pain crumbles into laughter on a capable wordsmith’s multi-purpose prose construction site.

Author: Eeva Turunen
Finnish original: Sivistynyt ja miellyttävä ihminen

Publisher: Siltala, 2022
Genre: literary fiction
Number of pages: 439 pp.
Reading material: Finnish original
, English synopsis

What is there to do when after your dear Grandpa’s death you’ve got to empty his house, choose an urn and organise a funeral? And what if, meanwhile, your long-term relationship is heading for a crisis and your so-called professional life also wants its fair share?

In Grandpa’s house, the narrator – an architect like him, but of a different gender and from a different age – is inundated with gentlemen’s clubs, cloth for suits, rolls of sketch paper, stencils, receipts for baked goods, and miles upon miles of ciné film. One foot in the queer margin, the narrator keeps opposing Grandpa’s conservatism, but can’t help admitting that some of the values are coursing down the generations – and that full marks are point blank unattainable, no matter how hard you try.

my plan is to start using the salt cellar Grandpa left me, the one shaped like a drop of water and made mostly of
dark wood

there’s Grandpa’s salt left in the cellar

I add salt, picking it up where he left off.

“Turunen’s novel is navigating between empathy and frustration at the moment of reckoning between different generations. She has built a unity out of faultlessly apt observation, that combines humour with the everyday and, at times, a melancholy tone. Her novel – written in free verse and dialogue – guides the readers to the nuance in language, the shades and feel of which Turunen makes use of in a delicious way.”
– Finlandia Prize jury

Also available:
Ms U. Reminisces About Her So-Called Relationship History (2019)

About the author:
Eeva Turunen