On life and death

23 November 2012 | In the news

Aki Ollikainen. Photo: Laura Malmivaara

On 15 November Helsingin Sanomat Literature Prize, the Helsinki newspaper’s prize for the best first work of the year, worth €15,000, was awarded for the 18th time.

The winner was journalist Aki Ollikainen (born 1973) with his first novel Nälkävuosi (‘The hunger year’, Siltala). The jury made the choice from 80 first works.

The hard years of 1867 and 1868 almost a tenth of the Finnish population died of hunger and diseases. Nälkävuosi portrays poor people in the country who are forced to leave home and look for any food they can find, and well-to-do gentlemen in town who can afford to amuse themselves with women, for example. This slim novel speaks of life and death; finally, after a deadly winter there will be new hope for better times.