Search results for "olli jalonen"

Chill climates

30 June 1984 | Archives online, Authors, Interviews

Olli Jalonen. Photo: Pekka Nieminen.

Olli Jalonen. Photo: Pekka Nieminen.

Olli Jalonen was born in 1954 and lives in Hämeenlinna. His first work, a collection of short stories entitled Unien tausta (‘The background of dreams’, 1978) and two later novels, Sulkaturkki (‘Feather coat’, 1979) and Ilo ja häpeä (‘Joy and shame’, 1981) were reviewed with exceptional warmth by the critics. His latest novel, Hotelli eläville (‘Hotel for the living’, 1983) brought him a State Prize for Literature in 1984. The awarding committee commented that the novel is ‘a representative of that rare genre in Finnish literature, the grotesque novel’. Jalonen also received the ‘Spurs of Criticism’, the annual prize awarded by the Finnish Critics’ Association. The hotel for the living is the book’s ironic name for a nuclear shelter that is being quarried into the living rock of Finland; Jalonen sets up a situation that allows him to examine the crevices of his characters’ personalities. He studies their attitudes to life with cool satire – they live in the bleak climate of buying and selling, the struggle for power and material goods, the domination of others, and submission to their fates. Interview by Markku Huotari

‘Poetry in a world under threat’ was the headline for a survey of Finnish poetry by poet and critic Väinö Kirstina that appeared in the Tampere daily newspaper Aamulehti in 1981.

Two years later that headline is just as bitingly relevant. Only one alteration is necessary: to poetry must be added prose, for prose, too, is addressing itself to that future, difficult enough to imagine, in which the threat of nuclear war may involve Finland, living in the shadow of the super powers, in a conflict in which she wishes no part.

One of the scenes in Olli Jalonen’s novel Hotelli eläville (‘Hotel for the living’) is set in a nuclear shelter that is being built inside the living rock on which Helsinki stands. Even now the planners of that ‘shelter’ use the fear of other people to their own ends, and divide them into those who will be saved and those who will perish.

A sermon on the day of judgement? Cliche? Milking of a fashionable subject? More…

Portrait of the artist as a young boy

30 September 2010 | Reviews

Olli Jalonen. Photo: Katja Lösönen, 2008

Poikakirja (‘The boy’s own book’), Olli Jalonen’s 13th novel to date, continues an ongoing narrative often nominally examining the author’s own family history. In this novel the first-person narrator is the young ‘Olli’ in his first years at school, and his story is the present-tense monologue of a boy between the ages of 7 and 10. The choice of the present tense underlines a certain sense of ‘perpetual now’ in the intensive narrative of childhood.

Jalonen (born 1954) is one of the acknowledged masters of contemporary Finnish prose. His expansive novel Yksityiset tähtitaivaat (‘Private galaxies’, 1999) was an astonishing demonstration of the author’s desire to combine his cyclical understanding of history with a highly sensitive depiction of humanity. The work brought together three of his earlier novels and shaped them into an entirely new composition: at over 800 pages, it would be no exaggeration to call the resulting work a kind of symphony. More…

Family crimes

31 December 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…

Olli Jalonen: 14 solmua Greenwichiin [14 knots to Greenwich]

30 December 2008 | Mini reviews

Olli Jalonen, 14 solmua Greenwitchiin14 solmua Greenwichiin
[14 knots to Greenwich]
Helsinki: Otava, 2008. 381 p.
ISBN 978-951-1-23014-4
€ 34.40, hardback

The ‘knots’ in the title refer to the 14-part control device in a competitive expedition that the participants have to use to check in at the control points. The Finn Petr Järvi leaves London together with his scientist friend Graham and Graham’s wife Isla on a year-long contest, held in honour of the 350th anniversary of the scientist Edmund Halley. More…

Totalitarian tendencies

31 December 2003 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Olli Jalonen is a master at creating a sense of dystopia, alienation and what it feels like to end up in the wrong place. He skilfully homes in on aspects of our everyday reality which resemble totalitarian tendencies, underlining them and their deadly implications through understatement, and by setting them in environments which are either utopian or skilfully alienated, seemingly realistic and neutral.

Jalonen is not a true satirist, but he has a flair for depicting people’s motives and changes in their identities in situations exploring the boundaries of ‘the normal’. Circumstances which unwittingly uphold repulsive social control, modifying human values, circumstances in which people die, into which they are forced, or against which they lamely revolt, are at the heart of Jalonen’s work. Equally important is the documentary-style reportage of the lives of people who are in danger of being forgotten about by history. More…

Olli Jalonen: Karatolla

14 September 2012 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Karatolla
Helsinki, Otava, 2012. 238 p.
ISBN 978-951-1-26469-9
€34.10, hardback

Karatolla is a Finnish dialect word for a bonfire that is lit at New Year or Easter. One of the main characters in Olli Jalonen’s new novel (his twenty-first publication to date) is an artist called Valo, ‘Light’. By the fires of his youth he has come to learn that the world is composed of nine basic elements: fire, smoke, light, earth, water, snow, ice, air, and time. At the beginning of the twenty-first century Valo and his colleague the architect Silla set out to construct a major European art work in which pyramids built of the above-mentioned elements are assembled in Prague, Brussels, Santiago de Compostela, Krakow, Reykjavik, Bergen, Helsinki, Avignon and Bologna respectively. In this novel Jalonen (born 1954) develops themes from his previous novel Yhdeksän pyramidia (‘Nine pyramids’), published in 2000: the events have moved forward ten years. When the project is completed, a nascent love affair between Light and Silla ends when Light falls victim to a fatal illness. Jalonen’s narrative is fascinating; the construction of pyramids, the cities in which they are constructed and the characters are portrayed with great skill, developing themes of artistry, honesty and the fragility of love. Much open space is left for the reader’s thoughts and imagination.
Translated by David McDuff

Desire and revulsion

30 June 1997 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Perhaps there is an economics of comprehensibility that runs directly counter to the thesis that a new form makes possible a new content.  Olli Jalonen’s novel Kenen kuvasta kerrot (‘Whose picture are you talking about’, Otava, 1996) is an entirely conventional story about women, men and marriage. The manner in which he tells it is, however, unconventional.

The result is an involved but never off-puttingly difficult novel that keeps its promises of a psychological suspense and complexity, even partly using them to motivate its form. More…

Works in progress

30 September 2008 | Archives online, Essays, On writing and not writing

Olli Jalonen’s latest novel, 14 solmua Greenwichiin (’14 knots to Greenwich’, 2008), was 19 years in the making. He ponders the joys and tribulations of such a slow maturation

When you spend years or decades writing the same book, what is the drive, passion or compulsion that keeps the cogs turning through the quieter months? Or are the months when you don’t write silent at all? Isn’t it the case that the core of a text or a book is born out of a state of peaceful nothingness?

More often than not, the most important ideas, the strongest details and the sturdiest structures of the art of writing come into being somewhere other than at the computer keyboard. One of the greatest benefits and pleasures of a writer’s work is carrying that work around in mind and body. At these times the writing machinery is whirring, quietly, calmly, freely and unpressured. More…

Becoming father and daughter

31 December 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…

What if?

30 December 2001 | Articles, Authors

GateA little familyFor an extraordinary period between 1944 and 1956 part of Finland – the Porkkala peninsula, close to Helsinki – was leased to the Soviet Union as a military base. Inspired by the photographs by Jan Kaila, Olli Jalonen explores those silenced and mysterious years, which prompted Finns to ask the question: what if the whole of Finland had succumbed to the same fate?

In the autumn of 1944, the Soviet Union set up an enormous military base close to Helsinki. The Porkkala area, which had been forcibly leased from Finland for 50 years, was returned to the Finns early, in 1956. Completely divorced from its surroundings and strongly armed, the foreign power’s base was like a bear sleeping in Finland’s back yard. It has left in the minds of Finns hidden images of silence, fear and mystery. More…

The dog-man’s daughter

30 December 2001 | Fiction

Extracts from the radio play Porkkalansaari (‘The island of Porkkala’, the Finnish Broadcasting Company, 1993)

The surface of the earth is the first to freeze; then the still waters. The sea freezes at the shore often at the same time, on the same night, as the slow-flowing brooks. I have watched them for many years. When you live in the same place for a long time, you notice this much: that almost everything just repeats and repeats.

It flows into a plastic tube. I suppose water flows inside it. You could drop matchsticks in on the other side of the road and wait on this side for them to swim through the drum. You’d only have to find one; that would be enough to prove it. More…

Beyond good and evil?

30 June 1987 | Archives online, Authors, Interviews

Esa Sariola. Kuva Irmeli Jung

Esa Sariola. Kuva Irmeli Jung

Markku Huotari interviews Esa Sariola

A stylish restaurant in the Stock Exchange building in Helsinki. Esa Sariola and I order a businessmen’s lunch. We talk about hard-nosed success stories. About technocracy, casino economics.

About profit.

A steely-eyed businessman enters the room from the stock exchange and sees us two soft-talkers, even if we look like men, wasting time. The ruthless gambler bolts down his lunch and disappears to the upper floor again, where he is making money.

We remain.

We’re just talking.

And there’s no money accruing in our wallets.

All the same we have a grip on that investor. Esa Sariola has already laid siege to people like him in three books: Väärinkäsityksiä (‘Misconceptions’, 1983), a collection of short stories, and two novels: Rakas ystävä (‘Dear friend’, 1985) and Kuolemaani saakka (‘Until my dying day’, 1986). More…

Hotel for the living

30 June 1984 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

An extract from Hotelli eläville (‘Hotel for the living’, 1983). Introduction by Markku Huotari

Raisa and Pertti are a married couple with three children, Katrieli­na, Aripertti and Artomikko. When she discovers she is to have another, whom she names Katjaraisa, Raisa decides to have an abortion, because another child, even if welcome, would now jeopardise her career – she has been offered a job with an international company at the very top of the advertising world. Raisa is the successful entrepreneur of the novel – on the one hand coldly calculating, without feeling, on the other superficially sentimental, perhaps the most startlingly ironic of the characters in Jalonen’s novel. His image of the brave new woman?

During her lunch hour Raisa took a walk via the laboratory, asked reception for the envelope and thrust it unregarded into her handbag. She was aware of her already knowing, but short of the envelope, there would as yet be no restrictions, nor were there any decisions that would have to be made. She had called Tom Eriksson, discussed yet again the same points and particulars, and ended tracing a finger over the two beautiful pictures on her wall. ‘The loveliest of seas has yet to be sailed’ and ‘I am life! For Life’s sake.’

She thought of Katjaraisa, her features, the palms the breadth of two fingers, just as Katrielina’s had been, and the same button-eyed gazing look as Katrielina. More…

The guest book

30 June 1997 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

An extract rom the novel Kenen kuvasta kerrot (‘Whose picture are you talking about’, Otava, 1996). Introduction by Pia Ingström

Late at night before going to bed An Lee had turned off all the lights, opened the large bedroom window, breathed the cool air. She had done this often. It made it easier to fall asleep. It was enough to look outside for a moment and to breathe in slowly, and at the same time the bedroom air freshened and changed for the night.

Then she had closed and locked the window, drawn the curtains, and switched on the dim wall light. It might be nice to decorate the space between the double windowpanes with wooden animals, she had thought, not for the first time. They had had some at home, her mother had been a collector of such things. Almost all of them pink and lemon yellow, a whole zoo between the windows, only the panther had been pitch-black, and on one of the elephants the pretty grey color had been scratched and splotchy on one side. More…

Toward good management practice

31 December 2003 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

A short story from the collection Värjättyä rakkautta (‘Dyed love’, Otava, 2003). Introduction by Harry Forsblom

Because queries from the field have recently been received concerning the allocation of investment resources in our production facility in a business environment that is undergoing pressures for change, we have in close collaboration with other production organisations, drawn up a booklet on good management practice whose intention is in broad outline and by production sector to delineate in what way the current market situation should be taken into account in the practising of our trade.

The booklet Toward good management practice. Functional spatial planning, utility-oriented measures and allocation of production aims, in keeping with its subtitle, to present, by utility sector, the latest research-based knowledge in the field and thus offer our membership aids to decision-making in designing organisational innovations that demand investment. More…