Search results for "olli jalonen"

Olli Jalonen: Karatolla

14 September 2012 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Helsinki, Otava, 2012. 238 p.
ISBN 978-951-1-26469-9
€34.10, hardback

Karatolla is a Finnish dialect word for a bonfire that is lit at New Year or Easter. One of the main characters in Olli Jalonen’s new novel (his twenty-first publication to date) is an artist called Valo, ‘Light’. By the fires of his youth he has come to learn that the world is composed of nine basic elements: fire, smoke, light, earth, water, snow, ice, air, and time. At the beginning of the twenty-first century Valo and his colleague the architect Silla set out to construct a major European art work in which pyramids built of the above-mentioned elements are assembled in Prague, Brussels, Santiago de Compostela, Krakow, Reykjavik, Bergen, Helsinki, Avignon and Bologna respectively. In this novel Jalonen (born 1954) develops themes from his previous novel Yhdeksän pyramidia (‘Nine pyramids’), published in 2000: the events have moved forward ten years. When the project is completed, a nascent love affair between Light and Silla ends when Light falls victim to a fatal illness. Jalonen’s narrative is fascinating; the construction of pyramids, the cities in which they are constructed and the characters are portrayed with great skill, developing themes of artistry, honesty and the fragility of love. Much open space is left for the reader’s thoughts and imagination.
Translated by David McDuff

Olli Jalonen: 14 solmua Greenwichiin [14 knots to Greenwich]

30 December 2008 | Mini reviews

Olli Jalonen, 14 solmua Greenwitchiin14 solmua Greenwichiin
[14 knots to Greenwich]
Helsinki: Otava, 2008. 381 p.
ISBN 978-951-1-23014-4
€ 34.40, hardback

The ‘knots’ in the title refer to the 14-part control device in a competitive expedition that the participants have to use to check in at the control points. The Finn Petr Järvi leaves London together with his scientist friend Graham and Graham’s wife Isla on a year-long contest, held in honour of the 350th anniversary of the scientist Edmund Halley. More…

Chill climates

30 June 1984 | Archives online, Authors, Interviews

Olli Jalonen. Photo: Pekka Nieminen.

Olli Jalonen. Photo: Pekka Nieminen.

Olli Jalonen was born in 1954 and lives in Hämeenlinna. His first work, a collection of short stories entitled Unien tausta (‘The background of dreams’, 1978) and two later novels, Sulkaturkki (‘Feather coat’, 1979) and Ilo ja häpeä (‘Joy and shame’, 1981) were reviewed with exceptional warmth by the critics. His latest novel, Hotelli eläville (‘Hotel for the living’, 1983) brought him a State Prize for Literature in 1984. The awarding committee commented that the novel is ‘a representative of that rare genre in Finnish literature, the grotesque novel’. Jalonen also received the ‘Spurs of Criticism’, the annual prize awarded by the Finnish Critics’ Association. The hotel for the living is the book’s ironic name for a nuclear shelter that is being quarried into the living rock of Finland; Jalonen sets up a situation that allows him to examine the crevices of his characters’ personalities. He studies their attitudes to life with cool satire – they live in the bleak climate of buying and selling, the struggle for power and material goods, the domination of others, and submission to their fates. Interview by Markku Huotari

‘Poetry in a world under threat’ was the headline for a survey of Finnish poetry by poet and critic Väinö Kirstina that appeared in the Tampere daily newspaper Aamulehti in 1981.

Two years later that headline is just as bitingly relevant. Only one alteration is necessary: to poetry must be added prose, for prose, too, is addressing itself to that future, difficult enough to imagine, in which the threat of nuclear war may involve Finland, living in the shadow of the super powers, in a conflict in which she wishes no part.

One of the scenes in Olli Jalonen’s novel Hotelli eläville (‘Hotel for the living’) is set in a nuclear shelter that is being built inside the living rock on which Helsinki stands. Even now the planners of that ‘shelter’ use the fear of other people to their own ends, and divide them into those who will be saved and those who will perish.

A sermon on the day of judgement? Cliche? Milking of a fashionable subject? More…

Portrait of the artist as a young boy

30 September 2010 | Reviews

Olli Jalonen. Photo: Katja Lösönen, 2008

Poikakirja (‘The boy’s own book’), Olli Jalonen’s 13th novel to date, continues an ongoing narrative often nominally examining the author’s own family history. In this novel the first-person narrator is the young ‘Olli’ in his first years at school, and his story is the present-tense monologue of a boy between the ages of 7 and 10. The choice of the present tense underlines a certain sense of ‘perpetual now’ in the intensive narrative of childhood.

Jalonen (born 1954) is one of the acknowledged masters of contemporary Finnish prose. His expansive novel Yksityiset tähtitaivaat (‘Private galaxies’, 1999) was an astonishing demonstration of the author’s desire to combine his cyclical understanding of history with a highly sensitive depiction of humanity. The work brought together three of his earlier novels and shaped them into an entirely new composition: at over 800 pages, it would be no exaggeration to call the resulting work a kind of symphony. More…

Family crimes

31 December 1990 | Archives online, Authors

Olli Jalonen’s novel Isäksi ja tyttäreksi (‘Becoming father and daughter’), one of the shortlisted books for the 1991 Finlandia Prize, is set across Europe in 1999. Introduction by Erkka Lehtola

Olli Jalonen (born 1954) is one of those authors who have brought Finnish literature out of the forests and into the cities – even into the nuclear shelters. Unien tausta (‘A background of dreams’) won a short story competition run by the publishing house of Otava, and was published in 1978. His first novel, Sulkaturkki (‘Coat of feathers’) appeared in 1979, to be followed by Ilo ja häpeä (Joy and shame’, 1981), Hotelli eläville (‘A hotel for the living’,1983), Johan ja Johan (‘Johan and Johan’, 1989) and the story-novel Tuhkasaari (‘Ash Island’, 1987). Jalonen was awarded the Eino Leino Society Prize this year; Johan ja Johan was on the shortlist for the Finlandia Prize. More…

Totalitarian tendencies

31 December 2003 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Olli Jalonen is a master at creating a sense of dystopia, alienation and what it feels like to end up in the wrong place. He skilfully homes in on aspects of our everyday reality which resemble totalitarian tendencies, underlining them and their deadly implications through understatement, and by setting them in environments which are either utopian or skilfully alienated, seemingly realistic and neutral.

Jalonen is not a true satirist, but he has a flair for depicting people’s motives and changes in their identities in situations exploring the boundaries of ‘the normal’. Circumstances which unwittingly uphold repulsive social control, modifying human values, circumstances in which people die, into which they are forced, or against which they lamely revolt, are at the heart of Jalonen’s work. Equally important is the documentary-style reportage of the lives of people who are in danger of being forgotten about by history. More…

Desire and revulsion

30 June 1997 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Perhaps there is an economics of comprehensibility that runs directly counter to the thesis that a new form makes possible a new content.  Olli Jalonen’s novel Kenen kuvasta kerrot (‘Whose picture are you talking about’, Otava, 1996) is an entirely conventional story about women, men and marriage. The manner in which he tells it is, however, unconventional.

The result is an involved but never off-puttingly difficult novel that keeps its promises of a psychological suspense and complexity, even partly using them to motivate its form. More…

Stars above

30 December 1998 | Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the novel Benjamins bok (‘Benjamin’s book’, Schildts, 1997)

There are people who feel they are in contact with the stars. Among those who carry their secret knowledge around with them are both the healthy and the ‘sick’. Now I remember Olli stretching his arm out towards the evening star and seeming to greet it. For others, for me, the starry heavens are a form of distant vertigo. All those milky ways and galaxies, how could they not be inhabited, have developed a culture far older than our own. Perhaps they have watched the development of our planet with distaste, and are waiting for its ruin, which according to their calculation of time will take place in a few years or days from now. If I listen closely I seem to be faintly approached by a celestial choir, composed of indistinct sounds; if I stand on a lonely road in the country, and look up at the sky, the light and faint murmur from a nearby town emerge, and can be separated from the faint voices of the starry heavens. It is probably just my imagination. Perhaps it is an extension of that voice – anonymous, quiet – that I hear when I read a book. A good book is audio-visual. And no harm is done if it gives the reader a mild sense of vertigo. More…

Rock or baroque?

30 April 2014 | Extracts, Non-fiction

sinfonisin_kansi_3.inddWhat if your old favourites lose their flavour? Could there be a way of broadening one’s views? Scholar Olli Löytty began thinking that there might be more to music than 1980s rock, so he turned to the music writer Minna Lindgren who was delighted by the chance of introducing him the enormous garden of classical music. In their correspondence they discussed – and argued about – the creativity of orchestra musicians, the significance of rhythm and whether the emotional approach to music might not be the only one. Their letters, from 2009 to 2013, an entertaining musical conversation, became a book. Extracts from Sinfoniaanisin terveisin. Kirjekurssi klassisen musiikin maailmaan (‘With symphonical greetings. A correspondence course in classical music’)

Olli, 19 March, 2009

Dear expert,

I never imagined that the day would come when I would say that rock had begun to sound rather boring. There are seldom, any more, the moments when some piece sweeps you away and makes you want to listen to more of the same. I derive my greatest enjoyment from the favourites of my youth, and that is, I think, rather alarming, as I consider people to be naturally curious beings whom new experiences, extending their range of experiences and sensations, brings nothing but good.

Singing along, with practised wistfulness, to Eppu Normaali’s ‘Murheellisten laulujen maa’ (‘The land of sad songs’) alone in the car doesn’t provide much in the way of inspiration. It really is time to find something new to listen to! My situation is already so desperate that I am prepared to seek musical stimulation from as distant a world as classical music. I know more about the African roots of rock than about the birth of western music, the music that is known as classical. But it looks and sounds like such an unapproachable culture that I badly need help on my voyage of exploration. Where should I start, when I don’t really know anything? More…

Riitta Jalonen & Kristiina Louhi: Aatos ja Sofia [Aatos and Sofia]

28 January 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Aatos ja Sofia
[Aatos and Sofia]
Kuvitus [ill. by]: Kristiina Louhi
Helsinki: Tammi, 2010. 36 p.
ISBN  978-951-31-5240-6
€14.30, hardback

Riitta Jalonen (born 1954) writes books for children and adults with the same emotional intensity. This picture book throws readers in alongside two children, Aatos and Sofia, to play in a sandpit. Aatos (or ‘Thought’, in Finnish) is a bit of a dreamer, while Sofia, who is slightly older, takes a more practical approach to life. As in her Tyttö (‘Girl’) trilogy, Riitta Jalonen uses an impressionistic mode of storytelling. Through a selection of brief, random scenes, Aatos ja Sofia tells the deeply personal story of a little boy’s fondness for his playmate. Kristiina Louhi’s bold, broad-brush illustrations have an almost hypnotic effect on the reader.
Translated by Ruth Urbom

Riitta Jalonen & Kristiina Louhi: Aatos ja Sofian meri 
[Aatos and Sofia’s sea]

9 January 2014 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Aatos ja Sofian meriAatos ja Sofian meri 

[Aatos and Sofia’s sea]
Kuvitus [Ill. by]: Kristiina Louhi
Helsinki: Tammi, 2013. 36 pp., ill.
ISBN 978-951-31-7048-6
€21.90, hardback

The duo of Riitta Jalonen and Kristiina Louhi has come up with yet another well-rounded picture book trilogy. Aatos and Sofia are sensitive, independent preschoolers, each with a good imagination and the ability to savour fleeting moments. It is rare for children’s books to contain such a nuanced yet natural portrayal of companionship and devoted friendship between children. Sofia has her feet more firmly planted on the ground that Aatos, who is more prone to let his emotions run free. Sofia’s mum’s aerobics sessions are a fun contrast with the children’s slower-paced lifestyle, in which they hold on to individual moments. This book champions children’s free, creative play and their right to a long childhood. Kristiina Louhi’s illustration style is both traditional and extremely modern.

Translated by Ruth Urbom

Beyond good and evil?

30 June 1987 | Archives online, Authors, Interviews

Esa Sariola. Kuva Irmeli Jung

Esa Sariola. Kuva Irmeli Jung

Markku Huotari interviews Esa Sariola

A stylish restaurant in the Stock Exchange building in Helsinki. Esa Sariola and I order a businessmen’s lunch. We talk about hard-nosed success stories. About technocracy, casino economics.

About profit.

A steely-eyed businessman enters the room from the stock exchange and sees us two soft-talkers, even if we look like men, wasting time. The ruthless gambler bolts down his lunch and disappears to the upper floor again, where he is making money.

We remain.

We’re just talking.

And there’s no money accruing in our wallets.

All the same we have a grip on that investor. Esa Sariola has already laid siege to people like him in three books: Väärinkäsityksiä (‘Misconceptions’, 1983), a collection of short stories, and two novels: Rakas ystävä (‘Dear friend’, 1985) and Kuolemaani saakka (‘Until my dying day’, 1986). More…

Olli Bäckström: Polttolunnaat. Eurooppa sodassa 1618–1630 [Trial by fire. Europe at war 1618–1630]

31 July 2013 | Mini reviews, Reviews

backstromPolttolunnaat. Eurooppa sodassa 1618–1630
[Trial by fire. Europe at war 1618–1630]
Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura (Finnish Literature Society), 2013. 558 p.
ISBN 978-952-222-394-4
€39, paperback

The Thirty Years War of 1618-48 which ravaged Europe, extending its influence to overseas colonies, has been considered a religious conflict in which several countries were involved for reasons of power politics. Olli Bäckström, who belongs to the younger generation of Finnish military historians, sees the first twelve years of the war as a separate entity that bears similarities to the so-called asymmetric conflicts of our own time, such as those in Africa, which are fought by mercenaries and non-state actors for whom war is an industry and way of life. The book begins by describing the situation in Europe in the early seventeenth century, and the background of the war. Contemporary researchers view it as a religious conflict that originally began in Bohemia and then turned into a political power struggle, but Bäckström sees also the early phase as remarkably nuanced. The Nordic states of Denmark and Sweden (of which Finland was a part) were also in pursuit of fame and power on the battlefields of Central Europe, although Sweden did not really take part in the war until the next phase. Bäckström vividly portrays the alliances formed by the various political actors in order to safeguard their interests, and the methods of warfare employed by the armed forces in the service of the different rulers.
Translated by David McDuff

Olli Rehn: Myrskyn silmässä [In the eye of the storm]

23 November 2012 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Myrskyn silmässä
[In the eye of the storm]
Helsinki: Otava, 2012. 320 p.
ISBN 978-951-1-26250-3
€ 30.50, hardback

Finland’s Olli Rehn currently serves as European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs and vice-president of the European Commission. He had previously occupied the post of Commissioner for European Union Enlargement. During the long economic crisis that began in Greece is increasingly affecting the whole of Europe, he has been ‘in the eye of the storm’, looking for ways to overcome the difficulties of member states. In this recent ‘interim report’ aimed at the general public, Rehn describes his personal experiences against the background of the crisis during its troubled and at times extremely hectic moments, and also presents recipes for overcoming it, taking into account both the Finnish point of view as well as broader global connections. He sees the success of the EU as being dependent on the creation of a banking union, the strengthening of European economic and monetary co-operation and the reinforcement of the green economy. The book opens up a fascinating perspective on the core of the wielding of power within the EU. Rehn writes fluently – but as an official, without revealing all that has taken place behind the scenes.
Translated by DavidMcDuff

Seekers and givers of meaning: what the writer said

2 October 2014 | This 'n' that

kirjaimet‘All our tales, stories, and creative endeavours are stories about ourselves. We repeat the same tale throughout our lives, from the cradle to the grave.’ CA

‘Throughout a work’s journey, the writer filters meanings from the fog of symbols and connects things to one another in new ways. Thus, the writer is both a seeker of meaning and a giver of meaning.’ OJ

‘Words are behind locks and the key is lost. No one can seek out another uncritically except in poetry and love. When this happens the doors have opened by themselves.’ EK

‘I realised that I had to have the courage to write my kind of books, not books excessively quoting postmodern French philosophers, even if that meant laying myself open to accusations of nostalgia and sentimentality.’ KW

‘If we look at the writing process as consisting of three C:s – Craft, Creativity and Chaos – each one of them is in its way indispensable, but I would definitely go for chaos, for in chaos lies vision.’ MF

‘In the historical novel the line between the real and the imagined wavers like torchlight on a wall. The merging of fantasy and reality is one of the essential features of the historical novel.’ KU

‘The writer’s block isn’t emptiness. It’s more like a din inside your head, the screams of shame and fear and self-hatred echoing against one another. What right have I to have written anything in the first place? I have nothing to say!’ PT

‘…sometimes stanzas have to / assume the torch-bearer’s role – one / often avoided like the plague. / Resilient and infrangible, the lines have to / get on with their work, like a termite queen / laying an egg every three seconds / for twenty years, / leaving a human to notice / their integrity. ’ JI

In 2007 when  Books from Finland was a printed journal, we began a series entitled On writing and not writing; in it, Finnish authors ponder the complexities, pros and cons of their profession. Now our digitised archives make these writings available to our online readers: how do Claes Andersson, Olli Jalonen, Eeva Kilpi, Kjell Westö, Monika Fagerholm, Kaari Utrio, Petri Tamminen and Jouni Inkala describe the process? Pain must coexist with pleasure…

 From 2009 – when Books from Finland became an online journal – more writers have made their contributions: Alexandra Salmela, Susanne Ringell, Jyrki Kiiskinen, Johanna Sinisalo, Markku Pääskynen, Ilpo Tiihonen, Kristina Carlson, Tuomas Kyrö, Sirpa Kähkönen – the next, shortly, will be Jari Järvelä.