Search results for "leena krohn"

Leena Krohn: Auringon lapsia [Children of the sun]

16 January 2012 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Auringon lapsia
[Children of the sun]
Kuvitus [Ill. by]: Inari Krohn
Helsinki: Teos, 2011. 32 p.
ISBN 978-951-851-311-0
€ 29.40, hardback

It is great news that Leena Krohn has not abandoned the young readership she first addressed through her first book Vihreä vallankumous (‘The green revolution’, 1970), an ecocritical title that also touched on active citizenship. This novel, too, is about the encounter between man and nature. Ten-year-old Orvokki (Violet) is a delivery girl for a florist; like her, the reader is incited to marvel with naive curiosity at life’s various wonders. Krohn is supremely good at writing literature that knows no age limits. Nothing here will go over a child’s head; the essence of the book is accessible to all. In this nicely old-fashioned children’s novel the measured language and expression are pleasing both to the eye and the ear. The hand-coloured graphic prints by the artist (and writer’s sister) Inari Krohn are a homage to Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717), the German natural scientist and illustrator who produced life-like paintings of insects and plants.
Translated by Fleur Jeremiah and Emily Jeremiah

Leena Krohn: Erehdys [‘The mistake’]

8 June 2015 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Leena Krohn: ErehdysLeena Krohn
Erehdys [‘The mistake’]
Helsinki: Teos, 2015. 154 pp.
ISBN 978-951-851-575-6
€24.00, hardback

The protagonist of this new novel by Leena Krohn (born 1947) is an elderly author, E., who one dark and cold winter night arrives by car in a small town to perform in a literary event at a local library. The atmosphere does not seem very welcoming, and as the author begins reading extracts from his works, the comments and questions from the audience are mostly negative and impolite, even hostile. Gradually the sinisterness of the whole event becomes tragicomic; on leaving, the author has to fight his feelings of self-pity and anger. This novel frames E’s life in a portrait of a serious soul in constant pursuit of comprehending life – which he finally seems to acquire in death (in a car accident). The larger part of the novel consists of the stories the author reads; they will be familiar in style to fans of Krohn’s work. Unexpected, strange and unexplicable events and moments of everyday life take the characters by surprise; dreams, memories, remembering and forgetting what has taken place in the history – imagined or real – may perhaps change the way they have lived their lives.


Leena Krohn: Valeikkuna [False window]

12 June 2009 | Mini reviews, Reviews

[False window]
Helsinki: Teos, 2009. 155 p.
ISBN 978-951-851-183-3
€ 21, hardback

The themes of the fiction of Leena Krohn (born 1947) have always included the distinction between life and art, the influence of the media and technology, and the dialogue between truth, illusion and falsehood. In Valeikkuna, her 28th book, the protagonist is a former student of philosophy who has installed a flotation tank in his home, where he spends most of his time, receiving customers to whom he gives advice. The philosopher ‘s teenage daughter lives in the mostly virtual but safe  ‘Fake Fake Land’; their home town is ruled by the Dividers League, who use violence to establish their control. The impossibility of defining reality runs as a prominent theme throughout the novel. As is often the case in her novels, Krohn concentrates on the philosophical attitudes of her characters rather than on psychological depth; Valeikkuna is a wise and critical novel, although not perhaps among her best work. Krohn’s books have been translated into 15 languages; her novel Pereat Mundus (1998) is to be issued in English later this year by the San Francisco publisher Omnidawn.

Strange and familiar

31 March 1986 | Archives online, Authors

Leena Krohn. Photo:  Katri Lassila

Leena Krohn. Photo: Katri Lassila

Tainaron is the name of the rocky headland from which the road to Hades starts. Leena Krohn has borrowed her book’s title from Greek mythology: the city of Tainaron lies in the volcanic region, on the banks of Okeanos. On the title page of Tainaron is this epigraph: ‘You are not in a place; the place is in you.’ The book’s subtitle is ‘Letters from another town’. The narrator of the book writes letters to her friend back in our world.

The inhabitants of Tainaron are different from us – they have the bodies of insects. In the street the letter-writer encounters a character whose ‘antennae wave above his muzzle-like face’, the café waiter’s mouth ‘protrudes from his face like that of a dragonfly grub’ and when her friend and mentor, Longhorn Beetle, smiles, it is ‘a slow sideways extension of the jaws to the two sides of his head’. Among the dedicatees of Krohn’s book is the well-known entomologist Jean Henri Fabre. More…

Contradictory logic

30 September 1991 | Archives online, Authors

It is unavoidable, really, that in her new book, Umbra, Leena Krohn should have found herself addressing paradoxes. She has long examined the complexities of humanity: good and evil, life and death, the biological relation of Homo sapiens and other creatures with the world, the contrasts of life and the extremes of phenomena. Humanity is filled with paradoxes, but the most difficult of them all is the paradox of evil: does an evil-doer will evil because he must? Or must he do evil because he wills it?

Umbra is a doctor. He works in a hospital; some of surgery hours are spent at a clinic called Aid for the Overstrained and at a research centre whose name is Negative Influences, which cares for violent criminals: rapists, sadists, paedophiles. Umbra is interested in the compulsion of pleasure that drives his violent patients, in the shadow that swallows conscience, the suffering of knowledge of the truth. ‘Moral sensitivity is one of the human senses,’ Umbra ponders. ‘Most people have it. In the clinics patients it is absent. Perhaps they were born without it…’ More…


30 September 1999 | Authors, Interviews

Leena Krohn

Photo: Liisa Takala

In Leena Krohn’s novel, Pereat mundus (1998) the central role is played by a number of characters called Håkan. All of them are different, living in different times and different places, but they are still Everymans: you and me. In the following e-mail interview, Maria Säntti asks Krohn about her relationship with language, imagination, the world – and virtual reality

Date: Fri Jul 23 18:04:24 1999 To: Leena Krohn <> From: Maria Santti <> Subject: Let the interview begin!

Dear Leena,
I have just read Pereat mundus, which I like very much. I have many questions to ask you about it; I shall try to gather my thoughts, but I think I am troubled by the problem of the first sentence. I am alarmed even to contemplate the maze of questions and answers the first question will lead us to.

Over the past thirty years you have published a couple of dozen collections of poetry, short stories and essays, and, since Tainaron (1985), ‘novels, sort of’. This is how  Pereat mundus defines its own genre on its title page. Sometimes your works incline toward novels, as in Umbra, 1990, sometimes toward collections of short stories – Matemaattisia olioita ja jaettuja unia (‘Mathematical creatures and shared dreams’, 1992) and sometimes collections of essays – Rapina ja muita papereita (‘Rustle and other papers’, 1989). How did you find this open ‘epistolary novel’ form for your work? More…

At the Fluctuating Reality Club

30 March 2007 | Authors, Reviews

Leena Krohn. Photo: Mikael Böök / Teos

Leena Krohn. Photo: Mikael Böök / Teos

For Leena Krohn, compromise doesn’t seem to be an option. Although the novel Mehiläispaviljonki (‘The bee pavilion. A story about swarms’, Teos, 2006) is her 26th book, her uncompromising approach doesn’t show the slightest sign of relaxing.

Once again, Krohn (born 1947) spreads before the reader an array of fragments of reported realities, which crisscross the boundaries of imagination and challenge the whole traditional conception of the world.

Since the short-story collection Donna Quijote ja muita kaupunkilaisia (1983; English translation: Dona Quixote and Other Citizens, 1995), Krohn has moved more towards the role of thinker and polemicist than ordinary storyteller. In her work in the 1980s and 1990s, she developed a unique, highly personal hybrid literary form, which combines the elements of fiction and essay. Krohn’s attention has focussed on human consciousness, ecology and moral and social questions. Her work has been translated into 12 languages; she received the Finlandia Prize for Literature for her work Matemaattisia olioita tai jaettuja unia (‘Mathematical beings or shared dreams’, 1992). More…

Stranger than fiction

31 March 1993 | Archives online, Authors

Matemaattisia olioita tai jaettuja unia (‘Mathematical creatures, or shared dreams’), which won the Finlandia Prize for Fiction 1993, is Leena Krohn’s seventh prose work for adults. The book is made up of 12 prose pieces that occupy the ground between the essay and the short story, thematically linked by a discussion of the relationship between self and reality.

In previous works, Krohn (born 1947) has approached the paradoxes of human existence that cannot be explained by science. ‘That which we call reality is merely a shared dream,’ says the main character of one of the stories. More…

An antiutopia, updated

30 September 2004 | Authors, Reviews

Leena Krohn

Photo: Ida Pimenoff

How many goodly creatures are the here!
How beauteous mankind is!
O brave new world,
That has such people in’t!

The quotation is the motto of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World dystopia; in Shakespeare’s The Tempest the innocent Miranda sees strangers for the first time when a ship is wrecked on the shore of Prospero’s enchanted island. In Huxley’s world, created in 1932, children in the year ‘600 After Ford’ are bred in test tubes, and the opium for the people, ‘soma’, is taken to fight off anxiety. More…

Digital dreams

4 February 2009 | Essays, Non-fiction

In this specially commissioned article, the first for the new Books from Finland website, Leena Krohn contemplates the internet and the invisible limits of literature.

Leena Krohn. Photo: Mikael Böök.

Leena Krohn on the way to Cape Tainaron, Southern Peloponnese, Greece; this is where Europe ends. Her novel entitled Tainaron appeared in 1985. – Photo: Mikael Böök (2008)

The world wide web, whose services most of us now use for work or entertainment, is a greater invention than we have, perhaps, realised up till now: according to the writer Leena Krohn, it is nothing less than an evolutionary leap

Technology combats the limitations of our senses, geography, and time. The human eye can’t compete with the visual acuity of an eagle, or even a cat, but with the best telescopes it can see into the early history of the universe, with new electron microscopes it can distinguish individual atoms.

The human senses nevertheless have an unbelievably broad bandwidth. About a million times more data flows to our brains by means of our senses than we could ever grasp consciously. More…

Enough is enough!

31 December 2001 | Archives online, Authors, Essays

Katri Vala’s admirers regarded her as a kind of priestess of passion for life. A hundred years after her birth, the contemporary writer Leena Krohn begs to differ

I have in my life been inspired by many poets – Salvatore Quasimodo, Charles Baudelaire, Nils Ferlin, T.S. Eliot, Edgar Lee Masters, Rainer Maria Rilke, for example.

Eino Leino, Uuno Kailas, P. Mustapää and Saima Harmaja are among the idols of my childhood, Edith Södergran and Helvi Juvonen those of my youth. Their verses must have formed such firm structures in my brain that I would be able to mumble them even if I were to become a victim of Alzheimer’s disease.

Katri Vala has never been one of these poets. More…

A passion for darkness

31 December 1997 | Archives online, Authors, Essays

In the fourth part of an occasional series on writers and their inspirations, the essayist and short-story writer Leena Krohn considers the poet Uuno Kailas (1901–1933)

I’m far from claiming that Uuno Kailas has ever been my favourite author. But I definitely had a close affinity to him in an early phase of my life.

There were a lot of his volumes on the shelves in my childhood home. I leafed through them at a very early age – in my sixth, seventh and eighth years. There were times when, as a child, I was very afraid of the dark. I might lie awake at night, stiff with fear, hardly daring to breathe. Presumably that’s why I was drawn to his poem ‘On the edge’:

I’m afraid in my room,
I’m afraid of the window.
And the shadows
of people the window shows
as reptiles – lizards crawling
across my wall.
I’m afraid to look at the door,
it opens on dark.
The doorknob gleams:
it could turn
and they’d be there
the ones I’ve no name for,
the ones I see in my dreams. More…

Finlandia Prize for Fiction 2013

14 November 2013 | In the news

One of the following six novels will be awarded this year’s Finlandia Prize for Fiction, worth 30,000 euros: Ystäväni Rasputin (’My friend Rasputin’) by JP Koskinen, Hotel Sapiens (Teos) by Leena Krohn, Jokapäiväinen elämämme (‘Our everyday life’, Teos) by Riikka Pelo, Terminaali (‘The terminal’, Siltala) by Hannu Raittila, Herodes (‘Herod’, WSOY) by Asko Sahlberg and Hägring 38 (‘Mirage 38’, Schildts & Söderströms; Finnish translation, Kangastus, Otava) by Kjell Westö.

Half of the writers have already won the Finlandia Prize once, namely Krohn (1992), Raittila (2001) and Westö (2006).

Four of the six works deal with a historical character or history: Koskinen with the Russian ‘holy man’ Rasputin, Pelo with the Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva, Sahlberg with Herod the Great of Judea. Westö goes back to the year 1938 in Finland.

Raittila’s realistic novel takes place on contemporary airports. Krohn, again taking a look at an unknown future, presents the reader with a imaginary Earth which no longer is habitable to humans.

The runners-up were chosen by a jury – appointed by the Finnish Book Publishers’ Association – of three: the journalists Nina Paavolainen and Raisa Rauhamaa and the translator Juhani Lindholm. The winner of the 30th Finlandia Prize for Fiction will chosen by theatre manager of the Helsinki City Theatre and actor Asko Sarkola, and announced on 3 December.

A light shining

28 July 2011 | Essays, Non-fiction

Portrait of the author: Leena Krohn, watercolour by Marjatta Hanhijoki (1998, WSOY)

In many of Leena Krohn’s books metamorphosis and paradox are central. In this article she takes a look at her own history of reading and writing, which to her are ‘the most human of metamorphoses’. Her first book, Vihreä vallankumous (‘The green revolution’, 1970), was for children; what, if anything, makes writing for children different from writing for adults?

Extracts from an essay published in Luovuuden lähteillä. Lasten- ja nuortenkirjailijat kertovat (‘At the sources of creativity. Writings by authors of books for children and young people’, edited by Päivi Heikkilä-Halttunen; The Finnish Institute for Children’s Literature & BTJ Kustannus, 2010)

What is writing? What is reading? I can still remember clearly the moment when, at the age of five, I saw signs become meanings. I had just woken up and taken down a book my mother had left on top of the chest of drawers, having read to us from it the previous day. It was Pilvihepo (‘The cloud-horse’) by Edith Unnerstad. I opened the book and as my eyes travelled along the lines, I understood what I saw. It was a second awakening, a moment of sudden realisation. I count that morning as one of the most significant of my life.

Learning to read lights up books. The dumb begin to speak. The dead come to life. The black letters look the same as they did before, and yet the change is thrilling. Reading and writing are among the most human of metamorphoses. More…

Indifference under the axe

9 March 2012 | Essays, Non-fiction

In the forest: an illustration by Leena Krohn for her book, Sfinksi vai robotti (Sphinx or robot, 1999)

The original virtual reality resides within ourselves, in our brains; the virtual reality of the Internet is but a simulation. In this essay, Leena Krohn takes a look at the ‘shared dreams’ of literature – a virtual, open cosmos, accessible to anyone, without a password

How can we see what does not yet exist? Literature – specifically the genre termed science fiction or fantasy literature, or sometimes magic realism – is a tool we can use to disperse or make holes in the mists that obscure our vision of the future.

A book is a harbinger of things to come. Sometimes it predicts future events; even more often it serves as a warning. Many of the direst visions of science fiction have already come true. Big Brother and the Ministry of Truth are watching over even greater territories than in Orwell’s Oceania of 1984. More…