Search results for "sari mikkonen"

Local heroes

30 September 1998 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Two collections of short stories, two strong displays of a diverse literary talent. Two books: the first received the Helsingin Sanomat Literary Award for the best first book in 1995, the second the Savonia Prize; it was also shortlisted for the Runeberg Prize. Sari Mikkonen received the Suomi Prize for young artists in 1997. Those are the high points of the career of this 31-year-old writer to date. Not bad.

Born in Juankoski, in eastern Fin­land, Mikkonen is a writer who is exciting because she both continues and innovates a great tradition in Finnish literature. She is a latterday F.E. Sillanpää, the chronicler of the slow life of the Finnish countryside who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1939. Mikkonen describes remote districts with the boldness of the contemporary writer Rosa Liksom. In her short stories, she often describes people in traditional surroundings – people who are no longer countryfolk, but are not yet townspeople, either. To her, juxtaposition of things is more interesting that choosing one and rejecting the other. ‘You can’t be either–or; you have to be both–and. There are no absolute truths in the world,’ she has commented. More…

Countryside revisited

31 March 2007 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

European philosophy and experiments with post-modern forms dominated Finnish literature in the 1990s. The cultural circles of the capital saw the long tradition of Finnish provincial prose as dull grey epic realism. At the same time, reformers of the tradition appeared, such as Sari Mikkonen. She is especially convincing as a master of the short form; her dialogues have a caustic edge and her narrative satiric eloquence.

Mikkonen won the Helsingin Sanomat literature prize with her debut collection Naistenpyörä (‘Woman’s bicycle’, WSOY, 1995). Yönseutuun (‘Around nighttime’, WSOY, 2006) updates the picture of the Finnish countryside for the 2000s. It shows how the ’empathetic blowflies’, the gossipy grannies of the village, enter the age of the mobile telephone, and smalltime entrepreneurs try their hand at mail-order businesses on the internet. More…

The train

31 March 1995 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the novel Koe (‘The experiment’; WSOY, 1994). Interview by Tuva Korrström

In the morning a wild rose tapped beseechingly at the window, the wind sighed in the shaft of the chimney, the entire house creaked, pregnant with so great a longing that they had to awaken.

And as soon as they began to speak to each other, the house settled.

‘I should like to see the train,’ Sari said.


‘Because that is the reason why I am here.’

‘I didn’t plan it like that,’ Kari said. More…

Antero Holmila & Simo Mikkonen: Suomi sodan jälkeen. Pelon, katkeruuden ja toivon vuodet 1944-1949. [Finland after the war, 1944-1949. Years of fear, bitterness and hope.]

16 June 2015 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Finland after warAntero Holmila – Simo Mikkonen
Suomi sodan jälkeen. Pelon, katkeruuden ja toivon vuodet 1944-1949. [Finland after the war, 1944-1949. Years of fear, bitterness and hope.]
Helsinki: Atena, 2015. 2650., ill.
ISBN 978-952-300-112-1
€34, hardback

Finland lost the Winter War and the Continuation War that followed, to the Soviet Union, and was then forced to engage in the short Lapland War to expel its former allies, the Germans. The return to peace was not easy, as the historians Antero Holmila and Simo Mikkonen demonstrate in this highly readable book. Loss of territory meant finding homes for more than 400,000 evacuees elsewhere in Finland, and this was not achieved without difficulty. Soldiers were demobilised and had to redomicile themselves in ordinary life and work; there was a shortage of housing; and heavy war reparations were to be paid to the Soviet Union. Leading politicians accused of appeasing the Soviet Union during the war received prison sentences, which many people considered wrong. The work highlights the aspirations of the Communists and the internal fighting on the political left. The Communist party, which had been banned, returned to the political stage and was successful in the 1945 elections. The majority of the nation was fearful of the growth of influence of the Communists and, through them, the Soviet Union. However, the Social Democrats, competing with the Communists for workers’ votes, succeeded in gaining considerably more votes than the Communists as early as 1948. Although strikes and conflicts occurred, conditions settled down gradually towards the end of the 1940s and the nation began to get back on its feet.

Sanna Tahvanainen & Sari Airola: Silva och teservicen som fick fötter [Silva and the tea set that took to its feet]

13 January 2012 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Silva och teservicen som fick fötter
[Silva and the tea set that took to its feet]
Kuvitus [Ill. by]: Sari Airola
Helsingfors: Schildts, 2011. 32 p.
ISBN 78-951-50-2053-6
€ 21.20, hardback
Silva ja teeastiasto joka sai jalat alleen
Suomennos [Translation from Swedish into Finnish]: Jyrki Kiiskinen
Helsinki: Schildts, 2011. 32 p.
ISBN 978-951-50-2054-3
€ 21.20, hardback

Sari Airola’s ability to depict different emotions makes her one of the most interesting Finnish illustrators of children’s books. Airola has long lived in Hong Kong and one can often sense an oriental spirit in her work. In this book, she makes use of Asian textile printing plates to enliven the surfaces of the images. The subject of this debut children’s book by Tahvanainen (born 1975), who is also a poet and novelist, evokes empathy with family situations that deviate from the norm. Silva lives in a big house with her mother, an isolated control freak and migraine sufferer. When her mother suffers an episode, Silva is unable to establish any contact with her and feels insecure. Although the text is allegorical, the book’s message, which concerns a parent’s caring responsibilities and a child’s need to be loved, remains accessible to children. Once the migraine attack is over, the mother goes out to look for Silva; mother and daughter are reconciled when Silva, at last, puts her fears into words.
Translated by Fleur Jeremiah and Emily Jeremiah

Sari Peltoniemi: Gattonautti ja muita arkisatuja [The cattonaut and other everyday tales]

24 January 2013 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Gattonautti ja muita arkisatuja
[The cattonaut and other everyday tales]
Kuvitus [Ill. by]: Liisa Kallio
Helsinki: Tammi, 2012. 67 pp.
ISBN 978-951-31-6576-5
€19.90, hardback

There has been a desperate shortage of short stories and fairy tales for a long time. Now Sari Peltoniemi has bravely risen to this challenge. In her previous young adult novels, she cultivated the ‘new weird’ genre, in which strange and fantastical elements encroach on everyday life. This collection can be categorised as the first Finnish children’s book that makes use of that fantasy subgenre. Peltoniemi’s ten stories also pay homage to traditional Finnish folk tales: a deceased grandfather makes a reappearance to his grandson at midnight; a little sister imagines her teenage sister changing from a fairy into a troll, as in folk tales about changelings. Everyday life is wrenched into strange or absurd situations without warning. Peltoniemi’s portrayals of children display real psychological understanding and insight. The age range for this book, for reading aloud as well as independent reading, extends from preschool to older school-aged children, as the age of the main characters is not emphasised. Liisa Kallio’s child-like, rounded illustration style does indicate, however, that the intended target group is children under 10.
Translated by Ruth Urbom

Sari Peltoniemi: Kissataksi [Cat taxi]

4 February 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

[Cat taxi]
Kuvitus [ill. by]: Liisa Kallio
Helsinki: Tammi, 2010. 154 p.
ISBN 978-951-31-5243-7
€16, hardback

Children’s novels with a humane, everyday approach like that of Kissataksi are few and far between. Juho is a skinny eight-year-old boy with a perfect life: pleasant parents, a nice little brother and a dog called Rekku. But one day, he comes across seven cats and an old biddy – and find that the cats have a plan to alleviate her gloom. Juho finds himself driving a taxi for the cats, who are searching for a reliable carer for their mistress, and soon Juho is joined by Virsu, a punk girl. Kissataksi charms the reader with its genial child’s pace. Understanding of displaced people, and empathy in general, have been sadly lacking in children’s literature in recent years. The title of this book is a homage to the Japanese master animator Hayao Miyazaki’s film My Neighbour Totoro, in which a cat bus figures significantly. As in Peltoniemi’s previous novels for children and young people, there is a pinch of magic in this book.
Translated by Ruth Urbom

Youth revisited

31 December 1986 | Archives online, Authors, Extracts, Non-fiction

Extracts from a diary. Introduction by Kai Laitinen


I thought I might weep today, now that it’s evening and I’m alone. But after all, I’m not weary enough. Instead I’ll read some Rilke: The Book of Hours, Stunden-Buch. Whose pages I turned at seventeen and tried to see. Now it’s all simply backtracking. Rilke’s the weeping I was expecting. That soft bitter swirling I sink into without troubling myself whether it’s good for me or bad.

I’ve been three days without writing a poem and it’s beginning to nag me already. Earlier, I was three months and it bothered me less. But I shan’t weep. I’ll read Rilke. I’m that young monk who believes he’s capable of being some day so afraid his arteries will burst. More…

Survival games

9 October 2009 | Authors, Reviews

Sari Malkamäki

Sari Malkamäki. - Photo: Irmeli Jung

Fathers and sons, mothers and daughters in Sari Malkamäki’s new short stories

The relationship between parents and children is the central theme of Sari Malkamäki’s fifteen new short stories. She published her first collection in 1994; in Jälkikasvu (‘Offspring’, Otava, 2009), her tenth book, the few stories in which children don’t appear nevertheless allude to childhood experiences or to a child who sets the narrative in motion.

The point of view may be that of the child or of the parent, the focus of description some moment that forms a turning point in the characters’ circumstances, or even in their lives. Malkamäki’s children are often touchingly resourceful and brave, even when their adults fail them. More…

Once upon a time…

13 January 2012 | Articles, Non-fiction

Sari Airola's illustration in Silva och teservisen som fick fötter (‘Silva and the tea set that took to its feet’, Schildts) by Sanna Tahvanainen

The future of book publishing is not easy to predict. Books for children and young people are still produced in large quantities, and there’s no shortage of quality, either. But will the books find their readers? Päivi Heikkilä-Halttunen takes a look at the trends of 2011, while in the review section we’ve picked out a selection of last year’s best titles

The supply of titles for children and young adults is greater than ever, but the attention the Finnish print media pays to them continues to diminish. Writing about this genre appears increasingly ghettoised, featuring only in specialist publications or internet chat rooms and blogs.

Yet, defying the prospect of a recession, Suomen lastenkirjakauppa, a bookshop specialising in children’s literature, was re-established in central Helsinki in autumn 2011, following a ten-year break. Pro lastenkirjallisuus – Pro barnlitteraturen ry, the Finnish society for the promotion of children’s literature, has been making efforts to found a Helsinki centre dedicated to writing and illustration for children. The society made progress in this ambition when it organised a pilot event in May 2011. More…

The birds and the bees

2 May 2011 | Non-fiction

Halcyon or Ispida (kingfisher)? A picture of this mythical bird from a 17th-century thesis, published in Suomen lintutieteen synty

The famous Swedish scientist Carl von Linné claimed in his doctoral thesis in 1757 that swallows spend their winters underwater.
Two of Linné’s countrymen, working at Åbo Academy in Finland, proved him wrong seven years later by giving evidence of migration, but to no avail: the silly theory prevailed until the 19th century.
In these extracts doctors Leche and Grysselius eloquently present a ‘Well-Intended Reader’ with errors of humanity that become epidemic

Extracts from ‘An Academic Treatise on The Wintering and Migration of Swallows’  by Johan Leche & Johan Grysselius (1764), published in Finnish (translated from Latin by Sari Kivistö) in Suomen lintutieteen synty. Turun Akatemian aika (‘The birth of the Finnish ornithology. The era of the Åbo Akademi’, Faros, 2009), edited by Esa Lehikoinen, Risto Lemmetyinen, Timo Vuorisalo & Sari Kivistö


As we know, humanity is no less inclined to err in matters pertaining to nature than in matters of morals. With regards to errors concerning the natural world, even the most experienced scholars are not always immune. The common people, for their part, have not learned to avoid such pitfalls and are thus constantly bumping into them. This is no wonder, since they are not accustomed to using the help of natural science or mathematics, and are thus unable to perform appropriate tests, to correctly assess future eventualities, or to observe phenomena closely unless they concern something already familiar to them. More…


30 September 1993 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

An extract from the novel Vieras (‘The stranger’, Otava 1992). Introduction by Pekka Tarkka

I lay there for a moment, motionless, eyes closed.

The bunk was damp. It felt damp around my thighs; I slid down lower – and there, it was really wet.

My sleeping bag was obviously soaked, and that meant that the mattress was soaked, too. Oh, rats. I couldn’t imagine having wet myself. Or – worse – had the boat sprung a leak, the water already rising up to the floorboards? I bounded to my feet: the rugs were dry. So was the cabin floor. I raised the boards, peered down: two fingers of water in the forward bilge, as usual. So, where the –? In the course of yesterday’s rough sailing, some water had seeped in below the windowframe. No more than a cupful, but it had trickled down inside the panel and then onto the mattress. I tried the other side of the bunk. It was dry. Well, I would just have to pick up the mattress and set it on its side. 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…

3 x Runeberg: poet, cake & prize

5 February 2014 | This 'n' that

J.L. Runeberg. Painting by Albert Edelfelt. 1893. WIkipedia

J.L. Runeberg. Painting by Albert Edelfelt, 1893. WIkipedia

Today, the fifth of February, marks the birthday of the poet J.L. Runeberg (1804–1877), writer, among other things, of the words of Finnish national anthem.

Runeberg’s birthday is celebrated among the literary community by the award of the Runeberg Prize for fiction; the winner is announced in Runeberg’s house, in the town of Borgå/Porvoo.

Runeberg's favourite. Photo: Ville Koistinen

Runeberg’s favourite. Photo: Ville Koistinen

Mrs Runeberg, a mother of seven and also a writer, is said to have baked ‘Runeberg’s cakes’ for her husband, and these cakes are still sold on 5 February. Read more – and even find a recipe for them – by clicking our story Let us eat cake!

The Runeberg Prize 2014, worth €10,000, went to Hannu Raittila and his novel Terminaali (‘Terminal’, Siltala).

Hannu Raittila. Photo: Laura Malmivaara

Hannu Raittila. Photo: Laura Malmivaara

According to the members of the prize jury – the literary scholar Rita Paqvalen, the author Sari Peltoniemi and the critic and writer Merja Leppälahti – they were unanimous in their decision; however, the winner of the 2013 Finlandia Prize for Fiction, Jokapäiväinen elämämme (‘Our everyday lives’) by Riikka Pelo, was also seriously considered.

Read more about the 2014 Runeberg shortlist In the news.

Home and abroad

31 December 1998 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

The short stories in Irti (‘Away’), a first collection by Sari Vuoristo (born 1964), are often set on the beach, at sea or even in the water. The characters include ship passengers, rowers, swimmers, sun-bathers, drowning people and fish.

Vuoristo lives in the Kallio district of Helsinki, high above the city, with a clear view of the flashing lighthouse on the Suomenlinna fortress island and the ships departing for Sweden and Estonia. ‘The sea before me,’ she says, ‘perhaps it’s some classic kind of longing for freedom.’ The short stories describe states of disengagement. ‘If there is some unifying idea, then it is the realisation that it is possible to disengage from unsatisfactory situations, or to let the past go.’ More…