Archive for February, 2015

Maija & Anssi Hurme: Lepakkopoika [Batboy]

5 February 2015 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Kuvitus [Ill. by]: Maija Hurme
Helsinki: Schildts & Söderströms, 2014. 27 pp., ill.
ISBN 978-951-52-3361-5
€22.90, hardback
Kuvitus [Ill. by]: Maija Hurme
Helsinki: Schildts & Söderströms, 2014.
ISBN 978-951-52-3326-4
€28.90, hardback

Bat boy is a compact picture book with sparse text and abundant pictures that are well-balanced – there is never too much or too little of either. A six-year-old named Ilmari changes into a bat boy who stalks people in the dim of evening. The book describes the feelings of a boy approaching school age with sensitivity – the story deals with defiance of adult authority, rules and restrictions. Ilmari can also be thought of as a special child who experiences the world differently than other kids his age. The day care he attends is presented in both text and pictures as a prison and the adult day care workers as guards. Maija Hurme’s watercolour illustrations have an anarchic energy. The comic strip narrative supports Ilmari’s feelings of aggression. His fantasies are presented as blue-toned photographs with white borders, but the colours of the home and park settings glow with a message of safety, caring and trust.

Translated by Lola Rogers

Vilja-Tuulia Huotarinen: Kimmel

5 February 2015 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Hämeenlinna: Karisto, 2014. 120 pp.
€22.90, hardback

In Kimmel, Vilja-Tuulia Huotarinen, known also for her poetry, presents no fewer than 12 teenage girls whose fates are left to be pondered long after the story is completed. Kimmel is a girl hero whose parents place the rescue of the entire planet on her shoulders. She has no doubt she will succeed in her task. She acquires a small pink airplane decorated with glitter – even though ‘there’s really nothing soft and pretty and hello-kitty about sixteen year olds’. For her companion on this epic trip Kimmel gets an interactive night book that empathises with her feelings and sometimes gives her concrete advice. Kimmel can be seen as a modern version of classic girl’s books – the author plays with girl’s book clichés but challenges the reader to think about myths of womanhood and the limits set by society. Huotarinen writes about the explosions of joy and the depths of sadness in girlhood with magical poignance and poetry.

Translated by Lola Rogers

Poets, pastries and prizes

5 February 2015 | In the news

Joni Skiftesvik

Joni Skiftesvik. Photo: Hilkka Skiftesvik

The Runeberg Prize for fiction is awarded to Joni Skiftesvik (67) for his autobiographical novel Valkoinen Toyota vei vaimoni (‘The white Toyota took my wife’).

Today, 5 February, is celebrated in Finland as the birthday of the poet J.L. Runeberg (1804-1877), known as the Finnish national poet, and writer – among many other things – of the lyrics of the national anthem.

In addition to the eating (in the Books from Finland offices, at least) of the rather delicious Runeberg cakes, it is also marked by the annual award of the Runeberg Prize, worth 10,000 euros.

The book tells the often harrowing story of Skiftesvik’s family, including illness, estrangement and death. In making the award, the jury commented: ‘This story appeals to the emotions, it touches the reader; but most important of all, after the book is closed, a miracle happens: its weighty content lives on in the mind, growing day by day. Many good novels have been written, but a masterpiece is recognised from its lasting effects.’

Runeberg's favourite. Photo: Ville Koistinen

Runeberg’s favourite. Photo: Ville Koistinen

New from the archives

5 February 2015 | This 'n' that

Eeva Kilpi

Eeva Kilpi. Kuva: Veikko Somerpuro

When we first published this piece, evacuation in Europe was a distant memory. The violent events that were to take place in what was then still Yugoslavia – Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Kosovo – were still to come.

Reading Kilpi’s description of her departure from eastern Karelia as an 11-year-old girl in 1939 with these more recent events in mind makes her evocation of the as-yet-unshattered familiarity of everyday life, the fragility of her prayers that everything will be all right, all the more poignant.

Kilpi (born 1927) is a poet, short-story writer and novelist who shot to international fame with her experimental, erotic novel Tamara (1972; English translation Tamara). She won the Runeberg Prize in 1990 for Talvisodan aika (‘The time of the winter war’), from which this extract is taken.


The digitisation of Books from Finland continues apace, with a total of 355 articles and book extracts made available online so far. Each week, we bring a newly digitised text to your attention.