Archive for February, 2014
Stories from Kirahviäiti ja muita hölmöjä aikuisia (‘The giraffe mummy and other silly adults’, Teos, 2013), illustrated by Martina Matlovičová. Interview of Alexandra Salmela by Anna-Leena Ekroos
The monkey princess
Adalmiina’s life was not an easy one. Her parents decided to prepare her for her career as a princess when she was a little girl: when Adalmiina was three she was sent to ballet school, at four she started taking lute lessons and at five she went on a course in magic-mirror gazing.
When Adalmiina turned six, she received a giant suitcase full of princess clothes and shoes.
‘Put them on, darling, we want to see you in all your lovely beauty!’ her mother sparkled, waving a muslin veil.
‘I want to go to the jungle!’ Adalmiina demanded. ‘Without any clothes!’
‘Will we have to force you to dress in all your glory?’ her parents snapped.
‘You’ll have to catch me first!’ Adalmiina announced, running into the garden. More…
Avartuva maailma. Kartta-aarteita A. E. Nordenskiöldin kokoelmasta [The expanding world. Treasures of the A.E. Nordenskiöld Map Collection]
Avartuva maailma. Kartta-aarteita A. E. Nordenskiöldin kokoelmasta
[The expanding world. Treasures of the A.E. Nordenskiöld Map Collection]
Tapio Markkanen, Leena Miekkavaara , Anna-Maija Pietilä-Ventelä
Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society, 2013. 175 pp., ill .
In the late 19th century the Finnish-born scientist and explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld (1832–1901) assembled an extensive collection of historical maps which gained international recognition. The collection is housed in the Finnish National Library and in 1997 was included in UNESCO’s Memory of the World register. In 2013 an exhibition featuring part of the collection was held in Helsinki. Avartuva maailma is a beautifully illustrated book, with large pages containing plenty of text (in Swedish and English). Professor Tapio Markkanen examines the changing picture of the world from antiquity to modern times, as well as the development of maps and cartography. In some ancient maps the continents were portrayed in the likeness of people or animals, or with the south being placed at the top. An essay by map historian Leena Miekkavaara traces Nordenskiöld’s biography, showing how he acquired world fame after making the first complete crossing of the Northeast Passage in 1878. The Collection is presented and introduced by the researcher Anna-Maija Pietilä-Ventelä, with illustrations that also cover the history of cartography.
Translated by David McDuff
Markku Jokisipilä & Janne Könönen: Kolmannen valtakunnan vieraat. Suomi Hitlerin Saksan vaikutuspiirissä 1933–1944 [Guests from the Third Reich. Finland in the sphere of influence of Hitler’s Germany 1933–1944]
Kolmannen valtakunnan vieraat. Suomi Hitlerin Saksan vaikutuspiirissä 1933–1944
[Guests from the Third Reich. Finland in the sphere of influence of Hitler’s Germany 1933–1944]
Helsinki: Otava, 2013. 602 pp., ill .
Germany had long been a great power with close historical ties to Finland, and when Hitler took over in 1933 the bond was still largely intact. Some Finnish cultural and scientific figures admired the new Germany and accepted its ideology, whereas the views of many Finland’s soldiers were influenced by the help received from Germany during the Civil War of 1918 and by the threat from the neighbouring Soviet Union. During the Winter War of 1939–40, when the Soviet Union attacked Finland and Germany was formally a Soviet ally, relations cooled. After the Winter War politicians sought support from Germany for reasons of Realpolitik, in preparation for another conflict. When the Germans invaded the Soviet Union during the Continuation War of 1941–1944, they sent military supplies to Finland and troops to the country’s north. Cultural relations with the Baltic superpower flourished. Hitler’s attendance in 1942 at the birthday party of Marshal Mannerheim (well known to be an Anglophile) was a spectacular display of Finnish-German friendship. However, no persecution of Jews took place in Finland. When it became obvious that Germany would be defeated, even the Nazis’ enthusiastic friends distanced themselves from them, and in the Lapland War of 1944–45 the German soldiers were driven out of Finland. The book provides a vivid and comprehensive reminder of a time when many Finns put their trust in Hitler’s Germany and were flattered to receive its attention.
Translated by David McDuff
13 February 2014 | Letter from the Editors
It’s been five years since Books from Finland went online, and we’re celebrating with a little bit of good news.
In the past year, the number of visits to the Books from Finland website has grown by 11 per cent. The number of US and UK readers grew by 29 per cent, while the number of readers in Germany – stimulated perhaps by the publicity Finnish literature is attracting as a result of its Guest Country status at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair – increased by an astonishing 59 per cent.
We’re chuffed, to put it mildly – and very thankful to you, dear readers, old and new. More…
13 February 2014 | In the news
The Finnish Comics Society was founded in 1971 and has since 1972 it annually awarded the Puupäähattu prize to an established Finnish comics artist. The prize is not money but a honorary hat – named after a classic Finnish cartoon character, Pekka Puupää (‘Pete Blockhead’), by Ola Fogelberg and later his daughter Toto. The Puupää comic books were published between 1925 and 1975, and some of the stories were made into films.
The 2014 Puupää prize was awarded to illustrator and comics artist Terhi Ekebom (born 1971). Ekbom began work as a comics artist in the early 1990s. Using diverse techniques, she often depicts feelings and states of minds. Her work has been shown at the Angoulême comics festival and has been published in English, French, Swedish and Czech.
A special title, sarjakuvaneuvos or ‘comics councillor’, was also awarded to two people; the comic artist Harri ‘Wallu’ Vaalio, and to the director of FILI, Iris Schwank who, as part of the Finnish Cultural Spring project held in France in 2008, commissioned a Finnish comics exhibition which attracted widespread attention. In her role at FILI Schwanck has been an energetic promoter of international visibility for Finnish comics.
Tuomo Pietiläinen & Tutkiva työryhmä [Research working group]: Wahlroos: epävirallinen elämäkerta [Wahlroos: an unofficial biography]
Wahlroos: epävirallinen elämäkerta
[Wahlroos: an unofficial biography]
Helsinki: Into Kustannus Oy, 2013. 432 pp. , ill.
Björn Wahlroos (born 1952) is a business and banking executive who is now chairman of Nordea, the Nordic region’s largest bank. The journalist Tuomo Pietiläinen, working in collaboration with 25 students, has produced a biography of Wahlroos as part of a course in investigative journalism, without the involvement of the subject himself. Wahlroos is a firm believer in the hard market economy. Based on careful background research, this biography charts Wahlroos’s progress from boy scout to radical left-wing student, his conversion to capitalism and his rapid rise to become a popular professor of economics. In the 1980s Wahlroos moved to the banking sector and climbed to the top of Finland’s business elite. Outspoken, both admired and hated, he is also the owner of an estate with cultural and historical significance, where he works as a part-time farmer. His hunting partners include the King of Sweden. This account of Wahlroos’s colourful career is written clearly and informatively enough to be understood even by those who don’t know anything about business.
Translated by David McDuff
To what extent does a ‘historical novel’ have to lean on facts to become best-sellers? Two new novels from 2013 examined
When Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s largest newspaper, asked its readers and critics in 2013 to list the ten best novels of the 2000s, the result was a surprisingly unanimous victory for the historical novel.
Both groups listed as their top choices – in the very same order – the following books: Sofi Oksanen: Puhdistus (English translation Purge; WSOY, 2008), Ulla-Lena Lundberg: Is (Finnish translation Jää, ‘Ice’, Schildts & Söderströms, 2012) and Kjell Westö: Där vi en gång gått (Finnish translation Missä kuljimme kerran; ‘Where we once walked‘, Söderströms, 2006).
What kind of historical novel wins over a large readership today, and conversely, why don’t all of the many well-received novels set in the past become bestsellers? More…
[The writer’s Kalevala]
Toim. [Ed. by]: Antti Tuuri, Ulla Piela ja Seppo Knuuttila
(Kalevalaseuran vuosikirja 92, the Kalevala Society’s yearbook 92)
Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, 2013. 313 pp., ill.
The Kalevala is the Finnish national epic, compiled from oral folk poetry by Elias Lönnrot. It has provided a source of inspiration to Finnish culture since 1839. Kirjailijoiden Kalevala continues a project entitled ‘The artists’ Kalevala’, started in 2009. To start with, four scholars examine, from different viewpoints, the influence of folk poetry and the Kalevala on literature. Some twenty Finnish-language authors then approach the epic with original thoughts and literary means. The result may take the form of reminiscing, of a short story, poem or cartoon. In some texts the Kalevala is present only indirectly, in others some character of the epic is placed in the focus – Väinämöinen, Kullervo, Lemminkäinen or Aino. Kirjailijoiden Kalevala offers a multifaceted collection of viewpoints; aptly, the editors, in their foreword refer to the epic as a literary sampo, the mysterious, mythical object of the Kalevala that generates wealth and riches.
5 February 2014 | This 'n' that
Today, the fifth of February, marks the birthday of the poet J.L. Runeberg (1804–1877), writer, among other things, of the words of Finnish national anthem.
Runeberg’s birthday is celebrated among the literary community by the award of the Runeberg Prize for fiction; the winner is announced in Runeberg’s house, in the town of Borgå/Porvoo.
Mrs Runeberg, a mother of seven and also a writer, is said to have baked ‘Runeberg’s cakes’ for her husband, and these cakes are still sold on 5 February. Read more – and even find a recipe for them – by clicking our story Let us eat cake!
The Runeberg Prize 2014, worth €10,000, went to Hannu Raittila and his novel Terminaali (‘Terminal’, Siltala).
According to the members of the prize jury – the literary scholar Rita Paqvalen, the author Sari Peltoniemi and the critic and writer Merja Leppälahti – they were unanimous in their decision; however, the winner of the 2013 Finlandia Prize for Fiction, Jokapäiväinen elämämme (‘Our everyday lives’) by Riikka Pelo, was also seriously considered.
Read more about the 2014 Runeberg shortlist In the news.