Riikka Pulkkinen: Totta [True]

22 October 2010 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Helsinki: Otava, 2010. 333 p.
ISBN 978-951-1-22965-0
€ 31,40, hardback

The second novel by Riikka Pulkkinen (born 1980) is a comprehensive work that tackles big themes: love, death and rejection. Pulkkinen’s particular strengths as an author are her richly nuanced language and her mastery of structure. While the ending provides food for thought, the book is an enjoyable novel about childhood, growing up, daring to love and live. Martti, a seventy-year-old artist, is caring for his sick wife, a highly respected psychologist. Martti and Elsa have had a long and happy marriage. Then it emerges that Martti had a long affair with their live-in childminder Eeva, whose story grows into one of the main plot strands of the book. Their love story takes place against the background of the 1960s, when the waves passing through European society reached Finland as well. Pulkkinen skilfully brings the perspective of the now grown-up daughter Eleonoora into the mix, as she views her early childhood under the care of two mother figures. At the 2010 Frankfurt Book Fair translation rights to Totta were sold to six countries, which at least goes to show that there is interesting literature to be found in the Nordic countries beyond the ubiquitous crime novels.


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