Archive for December, 1990

Between covers

Issue 4/1990 | Archives online, Children's books, Fiction

Extracts from Lastenkirja (‘Children’s book’, WSOY, 1990, illustrated by the Estonian animator and graphic artist Priit Pärn)


Children are wafting around the world: they come spilling out of the chimneys and clattering out of the pipes. They worm around cramped places in the nether regions, rise up through stiff roots into the treetops and muss up the clouds. Children just happen anywhere and bring the Adults along with them. More…

Becoming father and daughter

Issue 4/1990 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

A father kidnaps his 10-year-old daughter and flees to the western extremity of Europe, to Ireland, to begin a new life under new names. In the following extract, the girl is in a state of shock after witnessing an event organised by a religious sect in which animals are driven over a cliff to their death. The year 2000 approaches, and with it clarification of the relationship between father and daughter. An extract from Olli Jalonen’s novel Isäksi ja tyttäreksi (‘Becoming father and daughter’). Introduction by Erkka Lehtola

He begins leading his daughter back the way they came, along the hillside and the lip of the precipice.

The blare of the Legion’s display carries far, till finally the voices are scrambled in the bluster of the wind. The electricity crackles in the loudspeakers, and the thundersheets rumble out to the audience. ‘Be silent!’ come the roars from the plat­ form: ‘And look at each other! Each is fearfully following his way, each is a venue of good and evil, each is inscribed with God’s name!’ More…

Family crimes

Issue 4/1990 | Archives online, Authors

Olli Jalonen’s novel Isäksi ja tyttäreksi (‘Becoming father and daughter’), one of the shortlisted books for the 1991 Finlandia Prize, is set across Europe in 1999. Introduction by Erkka Lehtola

Olli Jalonen (born 1954) is one of those authors who have brought Finnish literature out of the forests and into the cities – even into the nuclear shelters. Unien tausta (‘A background of dreams’) won a short story competition run by the publishing house of Otava, and was published in 1978. His first novel, Sulkaturkki (‘Coat of feathers’) appeared in 1979, to be followed by Ilo ja häpeä (Joy and shame’, 1981), Hotelli eläville (‘A hotel for the living’,1983), Johan ja Johan (‘Johan and Johan’, 1989) and the story-novel Tuhkasaari (‘Ash Island’, 1987). Jalonen was awarded the Eino Leino Society Prize this year; Johan ja Johan was on the shortlist for the Finlandia Prize. More…


Issue 4/1990 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

An extract from the novel Jäniksen vuosi (‘The year of the hare’). Introduction by Mirja Bolgár

About mid-June Vatanen’s travels had taken him as far as the road to Nurmes. It was raining. He was cold.

He’d just hopped out of the coach from Kuopio, now on its way to Nurmes; so here he was, stuck on a rainy highway, getting soaked because of a snap decision. The village of Nilsiä was miles off.

The hare’s back leg had mended. Almost full-grown it was, now, that hare: good job it still fitted into the basket.

But, anyway, round the comer was a house: a bungalow with attic space – not a bad-­looking set-up. Might as well call, Vatanen decided, and see if there’s a night’s lodging going. A woman in a raincoat was scratching away at the garden, her hands black with soil. And old woman – and a picture of his wife flashed though his mind: there was something of his wife about her. More…

Out of the woods

Issue 4/1990 | Archives online, Authors

France has its tradition of conteurs; but storytellers such as Arto Paasilinna (born 1942) are uncommon today. This makes the success of the French translation of his Jäniksen vuosi (‘Year of the hare’; French translation Le Lièvre de Vatanen, Denoel, 1989) all the more surprising. A first edition of 11,000 copies has been printed, and a second is under consideration, while his Ulvova mylläri (‘The howling miller’) is scheduled for publication next, in a translation by Anne Colin du Terrail; then in line is Auta armias (‘Help, O Lord’), and then… Negotiations are also in progress with French book clubs.

What is the secret of Paasilinna’s success in this land of fastidious critics? Humour is not enough, for each country finds different things funny. A whole chain of causes and coincidences needed before Paasilinna achieved both critical and popular success in France, where the best that the best Finnish writers can generally hope for is a slim edition confidentiel. More…

We’re all perfect

Issue 4/1990 | Archives online, Fiction, poetry

Poems from Laki  (‘The law’, 1990)

The Law

No one’s stupid – there are
people deprived of the wise,
and those with self-respect
knocked flat. No one’s
hardened – there are people with
calloused wounds.
No one’s blind – there are
people cataracted by custom. Be different:
heal wounds and look up – wake
your dear one in mid-sleep, hug her.
(We’re all perfect.) More…