Search results for "jari tervo"

Life is elsewhere, but you can get there by taxi

30 June 1996 | Archives online, Authors, Essays, Interviews

Jari Tervo interviews himself, avoiding the subject of his new novel, Pyhiesi yhteyteen (‘Numbered among your saints’)

These light mornings, the writer Jari Tervo bubbles over with springtime after he has written a page or two of his new book and is getting ready to walk to the Thirsty Camel to enjoy a pub quiz, alongside about two pints of well-brewed beer. The birds have come back like boomerangs.

On his way to the shadow of the beer­tap, some people greet him, others stare shyly. The shy starers remind him of the television quiz. Those who do not pay any attention to him are thoroughly acquainted with his work. Tervo has written a Rovaniemi sequence – three novels, a collection of short stories and a collection of poetry – about his home town. Rovaniemi, located on the Arctic Circle, is, for these southerly citizens of Espoo [next to Helsinki], as exotic, remote and startling a place as Haiti, but snowier. More…

A writer like himself

31 December 1998 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

I first got to know Jari Tervo in the early 1980s, when we were both studying to be journalists at the same college. He had already, at that time, published a volume of poetry, but he did not seem to me in the least like a poet. No anaemic appearance, dark, floating hair or incipient beard. Instead, resolutely curly flaxen hair, a good deal of body mass, a grey jacket and funny boots.

Tervo became a good general reporter, particularly fond of the early morning shift on evening newspapers, the ones where you have to wake up at three in the morning. On those shifts you ring round the police stations and ask what criminal homicides have been committed during the night. Another common job is to wake a celebrity or politician up with an early morning call and demand a statement on some issue or another. More…

Jari Tervo: Layla

28 October 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Layla
Helsinki: WSOY, 2011. 361 p.
ISBN 978-951-0-38277-6
31 €, hardback

Social reality has stepped firmly into contemporary Finnish literature. Many of the new novels deal with economic inequality, immigration, prostitution or human trafficking. In his 13th novel Jari Tervo (born 1959) deals with them all. Layla is a young Kurdish girl whose cruel fate is about to be decided by the men of her family in Turkey. When she flees, Layla ends up in faraway Finland as a prostitute. Another storyline portrays a Finnish woman, Helena, who sells herself in part voluntarily. Tervo shows himself to be a feminist; the men he describes are cold tyrants who see a woman’s body as an object of lust and as merchandise. The novel is tragic and defiant, but also amusing and lively. Tervo’s style involves surprises and ingenious tricks, of which towards the end of the book there are slightly too many. Layla contains a good deal of information about Turkey, Kurdish culture and the people smuggling that takes place on the outer borders of the European Union. Some of the details have already been shown to be inaccurate, but this does not reduce the distressing quality of this story of a human fate.
Translated by David McDuff

Jari Tervo: Koljatti [Goliath]

23 October 2009 | Mini reviews, Reviews

koljattiKoljatti
[Goliath]
Helsinki: WSOY, 2009. 317 p.
ISBN 978-951-0-35610-4
25 €, hardback

Jari Tervo (born 1959)  writes comic, swiftly paced, linguistically accomplished prose with touches of historicism, philosophy and social commentary. Koljatti is a contemporary satire that prompted a great deal of fuss in the Finnish press for its perceived nastiness: the similarities between its character Pekka Lahnanen, an isolated and beleaguered prime minister, and Matti Vanhanen, the current Finnish Prime Minister, are clear. This novel outlines some crude caricatures, but its critical barbs are aimed not at politics, but rather at the relationship between the media and politics. This book, which describes the events of a single fast-paced weekend, portrays politics as theatre, in which the only thing that matters is how things appear; the media will drop any substantive questions in their relentless pursuit of new sensationalist headlines of politicians’ private lives. The news may not look the same after reading this novel. Tervo is one of Finland’s most popular authors; three of his novels have appeared in translation, in four languages. [Read a short story here.]

The way to heaven

30 June 1996 | Archives online, Fiction

Extracts from the novel Pyhiesi yhteyteen (‘Numbered among your saints’, WSOY, 1995). Interview with Jari Tervo by Jari Tervo

The wind sighs. The sound comes about when a cloud drives through a tree. I hear birds, as a young girl I could identify the species from the song; now I can no longer see them properly, and hear only distant song. Whether sparrow, titmouse or lark. Exact names, too, tend to disappear. Sometimes, in the old people’s home, I find myself staring at my food, what it is served on, and can’t get the name into my head. The sun came to my grandson’s funeral. It rose from the grave into which my little Marzipan will be lowered. I don’t remember what the weather did when my husband was buried.

A plate. Food is served on a plate. There are deep plates and shallow plates; soups are ladled into the deep ones. More…

Decent people

30 December 1998 | Fiction, Prose

The former newspaper reporter Jari Tervo (born 1959), now a successful novelist and quiz-show celebrity, writes about the seamier side of life. His subjects are mostly petty criminals and losers, but his crisp language is always a winner. And he can find a story even in a pork chop…. A short story from Taksirengin rakkaus (‘The love of the taxi-driver’, WSOY, 1998). Introduction by Suvi Ahola

The shopkeeper ran after the thief and caught him. The people in the parking lot of the S-Market made a fuss. The thief took fright when he found himself grasped by the scruff of the neck by a man the size of a baseball player. The shopkeeper removed the thief’s stomach. It turned out to be a packet of pork chops. They were not on special offer.

The thief stammered. The shopkeeper just had time to think that was the worst thing after snivelling when the thief started to snivel. The shopkeeper began to feel infuriatingly sorry for the thief’s arm, which was in a sling. Even his clothes were ugly. He let the thief go with a kick. I’m too good to be a shopkeeper, the shopkeeper thought delightedly, thanked the onlookers for their applause and put the packet of chops back on the shelf, where it was bought by a housewife. More…

Speaking about the heart

30 June 1991 | Archives online, Articles

New Finnish poetry, translated and introduced by Herbert Lomas

The ‘modernist’ revolution in Finnish poetry is now 40 years old, and the art must be ripe for changes.

Of course, the modernism of post-war Finnish poetry was not – except in Haavikko and to some extent in Saarikoski – extremely modernist. The poets were more interested in their content than their experiments. They were perhaps closer to ancient Chinese poets and early Pound than to Eliot in their elided brief juxtapositions and meditations on nature, society and moment-to-moment transience. The poets picked up a few liberties that unshackled them from metrical and rhyming formalities uncongenial to Finnish stress, syntax and phonemics; and they took off to speak about the heart. That is the strength of this poetry, and its originality, since all originality consists in being oneself – which includes one’s national self, and ultimately other people’s selves. And every generation still has to make a new start, admittedly in new circumstances, with the experience of its forefathers from birth to death. More…

What Finland read in November

16 December 2011 | In the news

The latest thriller, Teräsleijona (‘Steel lion’, WSOY), by Ilkka Remes (his 15th) was at the top of the November list of best-selling fiction titles in Finland, compiled by the Finnish Booksellers’ Association.

The second place was occupied by Jari Tervo’s Layla, the third by  Minä Katariina (‘I, Catherine’, Otava), a Finlandia Prize -listed historical novel by Laila Hirvisaari. Tuomas Kyrö occupied both the fourth and the tenth place with his novels Kerjäläinen ja jänis (‘The beggar and the hare’, Siltala – a pastiche-style story inspired by Jäniksen vuosi / The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna) and Mielensäpahoittaja (‘Taking offence’, WSOY). Strangely, we think, the Finlandia-winning novel by Rosa Liksom, Hytti no 6 (‘Compartment no 6’, WSOY), was not yet on the list – the day of the awarding was 1 December.

The best-selling list of translated fiction didn’t contain any surprises – Liza Marklund, Jens Lapidus, Paulo Coelho, Henning Mankell, Stephen King – except perhaps for the tenth book, a selection of stories entitled Hyvää joulua, Jeeves! (‘Happy Christmas, Jeeves!’, Teos), by good old P.G. Wodehouse: some of the stories have not been translated into Finnish earlier, hence the delight of local Wodehouse fans.

Among the best-selling books for children and young people were just two foreign names (Thorbjörn Egner, Lisa Jane Smith) and the three at the top were works by very well-known authors: Aino Havukainen & Sami Toivonen, Sinikka Nopola & Tiina Nopola and Mauri Kunnas. (The list is available, in Finnish, here.)

The life and deeds of the late Steve Jobs interested a lot of readers, in Finland as elsewhere, and Walter Isaacson’s translated biography topped the non-fiction list.

Helsinki Book Fair 2012

25 October 2012 | In the news

The twelfth Helsinki Book Fair opens today at the Exhibition and Convention Centre. Last year the Fair attracted more than 80,000 visitors.

During four days around 700 interviews and discussions with writers will take place on twelve stages, and there will be more than 300 exhibitors in the various fields of literature.

Author Jari Tervo has been nominated the Book Fair Club’s columnist: in his first contribution, entitled ‘Median myllyt’ (‘The mills of the media’) Tervo says, among other things:

‘During the last 30 years the amount of public attention directed at Finnish authors has probably multiplied by ten. How has it affected the sales of literature? Not at all. The sales haven’t multiplied by ten, or even doubled. Has the increased public attention affected the content of literature? I don’t think it has….

‘The media doesn’t churn authors in its mill because literature is so exceedingly important. To the media the authors are a biomass that is able to articulate a touch more juicily than the average celebrity. An author needs less editing. It’s as simple as that.’

This time the featured country is Hungary: the guest writers are György Spiró, Sandor Zsigmond Papp, Vilmos Csaplár, Péter Esterházy and Léda Forgó. There are 30 guests from 11 countries.

The prize Rakkaudesta kirjaan, ‘Out of love for the book’, was awarded posthumously to the writer, critic and editor Jarmo Papinniemi (1968–2012), who, according to the jury of literary experts was an exceptionally versatile professional working in the field of the arts.

See the big picture?

9 November 2012 | Extracts, Non-fiction

Details from the cover, graphic design: Työnalle / Taru Staudinger

In his new book Miksi Suomi on Suomi (‘Why Finland is Finland’, Teos, 2012) writer Tommi Uschanov asks whether there is really anything that makes Finland different from other countries. He discovers that the features that nations themselves think distinguish them from other nations are often the same ones that the other nations consider typical of themselves…. In Finland’s case, though, there does seem to be something that genuinely sets it apart: language. In these extracts Uschanov takes a look at the way Finns express themselves verbally – or don’t

Is there actually anything Finnish about Finland?

My own thoughts on this matter have been significantly influenced by the Norwegian social scientist Anders Johansen and his article ‘Soul for Sale’ (1994). In it, he examines the attempts associated with the Lillehammer Winter Olympics to create an ‘image of Norway’ fit for international consumption. Johansen concluded at the time, almost twenty years ago, that there really isn’t anything particularly Norwegian about contemporary Norwegian culture.

There are certainly many things that are characteristic of Norway, but the same things are as characteristic of prosperous contemporary western countries in general. ‘According to Johansen, ‘Norwegianness’ often connotes things that are marks not of Norwegianness but of modernity. ‘Typically Norwegian’ cultural elements originate outside Norway, from many different places. The kind of Norwegian culture which is not to be found anywhere else is confined to folk music, traditional foods and national costumes. And for ordinary Norwegians they are deadly boring, without any living link to everyday life. More…

Arms and the man

30 June 1999 | Archives online, Authors, Interviews

The work of Veijo Meri (born 1948) has a secure place in the canon of Finnish prose of the second half of the 40th century. One could say Meri is a man’s writer – especially favoured by men who have been at war. The male characters of his short stories, novels and plays find themselves in absurd and surprising situations in a world governed by chance. They are not, however, heroes, but everyday anti-heroes who are depicted by their author with laconic humour. Since the 1980s, Meri has turned to historical essays.

Meri is an unbelievably prolific speaking machine; hardly have I set foot inside his house when he is already, in his speech, strolling along the shore of the Pacific Ocean with Matti Kurjensaari, his late writer friend. The academic and writer Veijo Meri turned 70 on New Year’s Eve in 1998. The event was celebrated in the theatre, and a book was published about the writer and his work. And, of course, his birthday itself was celebrated: he no longer wishes to escape his age. ‘Can’t feel a thing,’ Meri says on the massive leather sofa in his living-room. Mrs Eeva Meri starts making coffee. ‘I’m just trying to understand that I’ve turned 70: when was it that I got to be so old?’ On his 50th birthday, he felt something: ‘It’s a threshold.’ That had, in fact, been preceded by some improvement in life; after the age of 45, apparently, one no longer suffers from hangovers and all the most sensitive nerves have stopped working.’ The world has become extremely familiar. There’s nothing mysterious hidden behind the hedge, on the other side of the horizon. You tend to avoid thinking about death, because it begins to seem a pity that you will have to leave the world, now that you finally feel at home here.’ More…

Men and a woman, too

7 November 2009 | This 'n' that

Lenita AiristoIn October, according to the best-seller list (Mitä Suomi lukee, ‘What Finland reads’), the top seven non-fiction titles included biographies of four Finns – an industrial tycoon (Pekka Herlin, one-time director of the Finnish Kone elevator company), a poet (Paavo Haavikko), and a former Prime Minister (Paavo Lipponen).

The seventh place was held by a book on a woman: Lenita Airisto, winner of a 1950s beauty contest, later a television hostess, celebrity, writer and businesswoman (Lähikuvassa Lenita Airisto, ‘Lenita Airisto in closeup’, by Juha Numminen).

The Finnish fiction list was topped by the latest thriller by Ilkka Remes, Isku ytimeen (‘Strike to the core’). Then came Kjell Westö’s novel Älä käy yöhön yksin (‘Don’t go out into the night alone’, a translation of the Swedish-language original, Gå inte ensam ut i natten) and Jari Tervo’s Koljatti (‘Goliath’). The latest Henning Mankell was number one on the translated fiction list.

Boys Own, Girls Own? –
Gender, sex and identity

30 December 2008 | Essays, Non-fiction

Knowing good and evil: Adam and Eve (Albrecht Dürer, 1507)

Knowing good and evil: Adam and Eve (Albrecht Dürer, 1507)

In Finnish fiction of the present decade, both in poetry and in prose, there seems to be at least one principle that cuts across all genres: an overt expression of gender, writes the critic Mervi Kantokorpi in her essay

Relationships and family have always been central concerns of literature; questions about gender and individual identity have received a new emphasis in Finnish literature from one season to the next. The gender roles represented in contemporary literature appear to become ever more stereotypical. The question is no longer only of the author consciously setting his or her gender up as the starting point for expression, as has already long been the case with modern literature written by women. More…

Once upon a time…

13 January 2012 | Articles, Non-fiction

Sari Airola's illustration in Silva och teservisen som fick fötter (‘Silva and the tea set that took to its feet’, Schildts) by Sanna Tahvanainen

The future of book publishing is not easy to predict. Books for children and young people are still produced in large quantities, and there’s no shortage of quality, either. But will the books find their readers? Päivi Heikkilä-Halttunen takes a look at the trends of 2011, while in the review section we’ve picked out a selection of last year’s best titles

The supply of titles for children and young adults is greater than ever, but the attention the Finnish print media pays to them continues to diminish. Writing about this genre appears increasingly ghettoised, featuring only in specialist publications or internet chat rooms and blogs.

Yet, defying the prospect of a recession, Suomen lastenkirjakauppa, a bookshop specialising in children’s literature, was re-established in central Helsinki in autumn 2011, following a ten-year break. Pro lastenkirjallisuus – Pro barnlitteraturen ry, the Finnish society for the promotion of children’s literature, has been making efforts to found a Helsinki centre dedicated to writing and illustration for children. The society made progress in this ambition when it organised a pilot event in May 2011. More…

In other words

21 June 2012 | This 'n' that

Wordworkers meet: the translators' congress in Helsinki, 11–14 June. Photo: Hannele Jyrkkä

From Finnish or Swedish into 32 languages: in mid June FILI (the Finnish Literature Exchange) held the biggest international meeting of translators of Finnish literature of all time.

The congress, entitled Kääntäjän sana/Översättarens ord (Translator’s word) was planned with one eye on the Finnish theme of the 2014 Frankfurt Book Fair.

The former Lisa Hagman School, now the House of Learning, offered the premises for workshops and lectures for 120 professional translators and almost 70 scholars of language and literature.

Participants translating from both Finnish and Finland-Swedish were offered opportunities to meet writers, listen to lectures from experts in language and literature and gain feedback from other active professional readers. More…