New from the archives

Too much or too little love

Issue 1/1987 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews | Added 27 August 2016

Rosa Liksom

Rosa Liksom. Photo: Pekka Mustonen.

On the October day last year on which Rosa Liksom‘s second collection of short stories, Unohdettu vartti (‘The forgotten quarter’), was published, she also opened an art exhibition of her own work. The occasion took the form of a kind of cross between performance art and a practical joke. Young women dressed in Finnish military uniforms carried out body searches on every newcomer, changed the guard and drilled, while crackers exploded in the gallery. Many people were of the opinion that it was all no more than a silly joke. Even the art critics were not enthusiastic: they felt that Rosa Liksom’s felt pen work was derivative of a certain Danish artist who himself had copied the cartoon-like stick-men of the so-called Chicago school. But all the same, there emerged from the pictures a funny story about the artist’s adventures among the underground youth of Russia from Leningrad to Vladivostock.

Only her closest friends knew which of the soldiers in the gallery was Rosa Liksom, which her clones. Rosa Liksom is a pseudonym, and her little game of hide and seek has already lasted a couple of years. We know of her that she was born in Lapland, studied anthropology, has travelled in both East and West and lived for a long time in Copenhagen. Her writing was published for the first time in an anthology of the work of young authors, Kalenteri 84 (‘Calendar 84’, 1984). Her first work, the short story collection Yhden yön pysäkki (‘One-night stand’) was published in 1985 and achieved considerable success. More…

One night stand

Issue 1/1987 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose | Added 27 August 2016

Stories from Yhden yön pysäkki (‘One night stand’, 1985) and Unohdettu vartti (‘The forgotten quarter’, 1986). Introduction by Pekka Tarkka

At the beginning of November it really started to freeze. A month earlier than usual. There was little snow to speak of, but the ground froze hard as bone.

Tamed by hunger, reindeer clustered along the roadsides and on the village outskirts. Many of them ended their misery by flinging themselves under the timber-lorries in the evening dark. Bony and bloody carcasses littered the ditches and field-edges.

Then the snowstorms came. It snowed without stop for nearly two weeks. At times the whole landscape was reduced to a white line. Snowdrifts mounted round the houses and up the snow fences. The reindeer carcasses lay about under the snowbanks, waiting for spring. More…

Portraits of change

Issue 1/1987 | Archives online, Authors, Interviews | Added 27 August 2016

Eeva Joenpelto

Eeva Joenpelto. Photo: Tyyne Havia / SKS Archives

Erkka Lehtola interviews Eeva Joenpelto

You can see Eeva Joenpelto’s house from a long way off: a substantial red-painted building in the southern Finnish village of Sammatti. It is the kind of house rich Finnish farmers lived in in days gone by.

The farmyard is big; behind the hedge loom the neighbouring fields and the blue mushroom woods of autumn. In the flower beds are roses and ornamental plants; the red farmhouse breathes the old Finnish countryside tradition.

But there has been no farming in the red house’s fields and meadows for a long time now. Eeva Joenpelto moved from the capital to these peaceful country surroundings just a few years ago.

All the same, the red house, the well-kept yard and forest and cornfields nearby have an important significance: for in many of her novels Eeva Joenpelto, the writer who has moved to the country, describes a huge shift in Finnish society. Many of her novels show the disintegration of the old Finnish agrarian society, and the industrial Finland, that creation of supply and demand, taking its place. More…

Lest your shadow fade

Issue 1/1987 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose | Added 27 August 2016

An extract from the novel Jottei varjos haalistu (‘Lest your shadow fade’, 1987). Interview by Erkka Lehtola

‘… learn, then, to like yourself.
Dancing beside your shadow, laugh and play.
Dance always in the sunlight, lest your shadow fade.’

J. Fr. Erlander, 1876 (Erika Kuovinoja’s grandfather)

‘Tis in life’s hardness that its splendour lies.’

J. Fr. E., 1890

Three days before the date fixed for the funeral, the minister directed his steps towards the home of the deceased, trying, as he walked, to compose his thoughts, which were full of righteous Lutheran anger. There were many good reasons for this. On the other hand, nothing that had happened in the past ought to make any difference, now that he was on his way to visit a house of mourning. A visit that called for the exercise of understanding, and even, if possible, kindness. It was a lot for anyone to expect, even of a clergyman. It was not by his own desire that he was paying this call: it was a matter of duty. And this time he was the protagonist. Petulantly, his shoes crunched the gravel. More…