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