Search results for "sirpa kähkönen"

Sirpa Kähkönen: Vihan ja rakkauden liekit. Kohtalona 1930-luvun Suomi [Flames of love and hatred. Finland in the 1930s as destiny]

20 January 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Vihan ja rakkauden liekit. Kohtalona 1930-luvun Suomi
[Flames of love and hatred. Finland in the 1930s as destiny]
Helsinki: Otava, 2010. 287 p.
ISBN 978-951-1-24275-8
€ 32, hardback

In this non-fiction book, novelist Sirpa Kähkönen (born 1964) tells the story of her grandfather Lauri Tuomainen (1904–1971) in the context of Finnish politics of the 1920s and 30s. Tuomainen spent more than seven years in a labour camp at Tammisaari in south-western Finland, where Communist prisoners were sent after the Finnish Civil War of 1918. He was imprisoned in 1926 following his desertion from the Finnish Red Army officers’ academy in St Petersburg, and again in 1932 in the aftermath of planned public protests. The rise in political extremism and the worldwide economic depression made conditions in the prison camp extremely harsh. Kähkönen makes use of many archival sources in her descriptions of the hunger strike in the summer of 1933 and violence inflicted by the prison guards. In 1938 Tuomainen was released a broken man. One of the intriguing figures in this book is Mary Rhodes Moorhouse, from a wealthy British–New Zealand family, an enthusiastic supporter of the women’s rights movement and Communism; she married Eino Pekkala, a member of Finland’s left-wing political elite.

Nine lives

30 September 1994 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Entire lives flash by in half a page in this selection of very short short stories. Extracts from Elämiä (‘Lives’, Otava, 1994)


Silja was born in 1900. The home farm had been sub-divided many times. Silja threw a piece of bread on the floor. ‘Don’t sling God’s corn,’ said grandmother. Silja got up to go to school at four. In the cart, her head nodded; when the horse was going downhill its shoes struck sparks in the darkness. Silja’s brother drove to another province to go courting. Silja sat in the side-car. ‘The birches were in full leaf there,’ she said at home. Silja went to Helsinki University to read Swedish. She saw the famous Adolf Lindfors playing a miser on the big stage at the National Theatre. Silja got a senior teaching post at the high school. With a colleague, she travelled in Gotland. Silja donated her television set to the museum. It was one of the first Philips models. ‘Has this been watched at all?’ they asked Silja. Silja learned to drive after she retired. She called her car ‘The Knight’. The teachers’ society made a theatre trip to Tampere. Silja looked up her colleague in the telephone directory in the interval. There was no one of that name. More…

No country for young men

30 March 2008 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

When men go off to war, women must do their best to take their place at home. Lauri Sihvonen examines two fictional accounts – written in 1950 and 2007 – of women in the Second World War and its aftermath

When the Continuation War broke out in June 1941, Finland was in dire need of strength to fight the Soviet Union. Field Marshal and commanderin-chief of the armed forces Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim wrote to the Finns in an order of the day as follows:

‘I call upon you to embark with me upon a holy war against the enemy of our nation. The fallen heroes [of the Winter War, 1939–1940] will rise again from beneath the summer hillocks to stand beside us this day, as we set out on this crusade against our enemies, firm in our purpose to ensure the future of Finland, with the glorious military might of Germany at our side and as our brothers in arms.’

Sirpa Kähkönen (born in Kuopio in 1964) has taken this wild bit of zombie fiction as the basis for her new novel; Mannerheim gets exactly what he ordered.

Lakanasiivet (‘Linen wings’, Otava), the fourth independent instalment in Kähkönen’s novel series, tells of Kuopio on 1 July 1941. This was the only day on which this largest city in northern Savo, 400 kilometres northeast of Helsinki, was bombed during the Continuation War (1941–1944). More…

Sirpa Kivilaakso: Satukuningatar Anni Swan [Anni Swan, the queen of storytelling]

7 May 2010 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Satukuningatar Anni Swan. Elämä ja teokset
[Anni Swan, the queen of storytelling. Her life and works]
Jyväskylä: Atena, 2009. 275 p., ill.
ISBN 978-951-796-561-3
€ 32, hardback

Anni Swan (1875–1958) was a writer, translator and editor of children’s magazines. Her symbolic tales utilise her highly original language of sensory imagery. Swan’s symbolism is rooted in the golden age of Finnish arts at the end of the 19th century. The pre-eminent setting for Swan’s stories is the Finnish forest. Her ‘eco-criticism’ of practices that exploited the natural environment can be seen as radical for her time. Swan is also considered to be the first true writer of books for young people in Finland. Her stories about upper-class characters who overcome obstacles emphasise the class conflicts and other injustices of their day, yet they have remained popular into the 21st century. This book, based on Sirpa Kivilaakso’s doctoral thesis on Swan’s fairy-tale symbolism, presents a biography of the author, with supporting extracts from her books, diary entries and letters.

When sleeping dogs wake

31 December 1994 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Extracts rom the novel Tuomari Müller, hieno mies (‘Judge Müller, a fine man’, WSOY, 1994). Introduction by Soila Lehtonen

In due course the door to the flat was opened, and a stoutish, quiet-looking woman admitted the three men, showed them where to hang their coats, indicated an open door straight ahead of them, and herself disappeared through another door.

After briefly elbowing each other in front of the mirror, the visitors took a deep breath and entered the room. The gardener was the last to go in. The home help, or whatever she was, brought in a pot of coffee and placed it on a tray, on which cups had already been set out, within reach of her mistress. The widow herself remained seated. They shook hands with her in tum. The mayor was greeted with a smile, but the bank manager and the gardener were not expected, and their presence came as a shock. She pulled herself together and invited the gentlemen to seat themselves, side by side, facing her across the table. They heard the front door slam shut: presumably the home help had gone out. More…

Best-selling books in September

18 October 2012 | In the news

Number one on the September list of best-selling Finnish fiction titles, compiled by the Finnish Booksellers’ Association, is Sofi Oksanen’s new novel Kun kyyhkyset katosivat (‘When the doves disappeared’, Like): which shot straight to the top of the list on its publication in August.

The huge national and international success of her previous novel, Puhdistus – in English, Purge – published in 2008 and also set in Estonia, has paved the way for Kun kyyhkyset katosivat; translation rights have been sold to several countries already.

Number two on the list was Riikka Pulkkinen’s third novel, Vieras (‘The stranger’, Otava). In third and fourth places were two new thrillers, Paholaisen pennut (‘The devil’s cubs’, Tammi), by Leena Lehtolainen, and Ylösnousemus (‘Resurrection’, WSOY), by Ilkka Remes.

In fifth place was Sirpa Kähkönen’s novel Hietakehto (‘Sand cradle’, Otava): number six in her series set in the Kuopio region of eastern Finland, during the Second World War.

The non-fiction (translated foreign as well as Finnish) list was topped by Blaine Harden’s Escape from Camp 14 (in North Korea; Gummerus). The variety of subjects on this list can be surprising: number two is about angels (Lorna Byrne’s A Message of Hope from the Angels, Otava), number three a biography of a Finnish ex-con turned surgeon (Veitsen terällä, ‘On knife’s edge’, by Arno Kotro & Christer Lybäck, Otava), number four about the Cold War in Finland (Jukka Tarkka: Karhun kainalossa, ‘Under the arm of the bear’, Otava) and number five about cupcakes (by Angela Drake, Otava)…

Mauri Kunnas: Aarresaari

The three best-selling children’s books were by seasoned Finnish authors: illustrator-writer Mauri Kunnas, with his tribute to R.L Stevenson, Aarresaari (‘Treasure island’, Otava), Aino Havukainen & Sami Toivonen, with Tatu ja Patu pihalla (‘Tatu and Patu outdoors’, Otava) and Sinikka Nopola & Tiina Nopola, with their Risto Räppääjä ja nukkavieru Nelli (‘Risto Rapper and Threadbare Nelly’, Tammi).

And the winner is… Finlandia Prize for Fiction 2014

27 November 2014 | In the news

Jussi Valtonen. Photo: Markko Taina

Jussi Valtonen. Photo: Markko Taina

The winner of the prize this year, worth €30,000 and awarded on 27 November, is He eivät tiedä mitä he tekevät (‘For they know not what they do’, Tammi) by Jussi Valtonen (born 1974), a psychologist and writer. The novel – 558 pages – is his third: it focuses on the relationship of science and ethics in the contemporary world, with an American professor of neuroscience, married to a Finn, as the protagonist.

Professor Anne Brunila – who has worked, among other posts, as a CEO in forest and energy industry – chose the winner. In her awarding speech she said: ‘The novel is an astonishing combination of perceptive description of human relationships, profound moral and ethical reasoning, science fiction and suspense…. I have never encountered a Finnish portrayal of our present era that is anything like it.’

The other five novels on the shortlist of six were the following:

Kaksi viatonta päivää (‘Two innocent days’, Gummerus) by Heidi Jaatinen is a story of a child whose parents are not able to take care of her; Olli Jalonen’s Miehiä ja ihmisiä (’Men and human beings’, Otava) focuses on a young man’s summer in the 1970s. Neljäntienristeys (‘The crossing of four roads’, WSOY), a first novel by Tommi Kinnunen, is a story set in the 20th-century Finnish countryside over three generations. Kultarinta (‘Goldbreast’, Gummerus) by Anni Kytömäki is a first novel about generations, set in the years between 1903 and 1937, celebrating the Finnish forest and untouched nature. Graniittimies (‘Granite man’, Otava) by Sirpa Kähkönen portrays a young, idealistic Finnish couple who move to the newly-founded Soviet Union to work in the utopia they believe in.

Finlandia Prize for Non-Fiction 2010

19 November 2010 | In the news

A massive tome running to 1,000 pages by Vesa Sirén, journalist and music critic of the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper, features Finnish conductors from the 1880s to the present day. On 18 November it became the recipient of the 2010 Finlandia Prize for Non-Fiction by the Finnish Book Foundation, worth €30,000.

The choice, from six shortlisted works, was made by economist Sinikka Salo. Suomalaiset kapellimestarit: Sibeliuksesta Saloseen, Kajanuksesta Franckiin (‘Finnish conductors: from Sibelius to Salonen, from Kajanus to Franck’) is published by Otava.

The other five works on the shortlist were Itämeren tulevaisuus (‘The future of the Baltic Sea’, Gaudeamus) by Saara Bäck, Markku Ollikainen, Erik Bonsdorff, Annukka Eriksson, Eeva-Liisa Hallanaro, Sakari Kuikka, Markku Viitasalo and Mari Walls; the Finnish Marshal C.G. Mannerheim’s early 20th-century travel diaries, Dagbok förd under min resa i Centralasien och Kina 1906–07–08 (‘Diary from my journey to Central Asia and China 1906–07–08’, Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland & Atlantis), edited by Harry Halén; Vihan ja rakkauden liekit. Kohtalona 1930-luvun Suomi (‘Flames of hatred and love. 1930s Finland as a destiny’, Otava) by Sirpa Kähkönen; Suomalaiset kalaherkut (‘Finnish fish delicacies’, Otava) by Tatu Lehtovaara (photographs by Jukka Heiskanen) and Puukon historia (‘A history of the Finnish puukko knife’, Apali) by Anssi Ruusuvuori.

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.

The books that sold

11 March 2011 | In the news

-Today we're off to the Middle Ages Fair. – Oh, right. - Welcome! I'm Knight Orgulf. – I'm a noblewoman. -Who are you? – The plague. *From Fingerpori by Pertti Jarla

Among the ten best-selling Finnish fiction books in 2010, according statistics compiled by the Booksellers’ Association of Finland, were three crime novels.

Number one on the list was the latest thriller by Ilkka Remes, Shokkiaalto (‘Shock wave‘, WSOY). It sold 72,600 copies. Second came a new family novel Totta (‘True’, Otava) by Riikka Pulkkinen, 59,100 copies.

Number three was a new thriller by Reijo Mäki (Kolmijalkainen mies, ‘The three-legged man’, Otava), and a new police novel by Matti Yrjänä Joensuu, Harjunpää ja rautahuone (‘Harjunpää and the iron room’, Otava), was number six.

The Finlandia Fiction Prize winner 2010, Nenäpäivä (‘Nose day’, Teos) by Mikko Rimminen, sold almost 54,000 copies and was fourth on the list. Sofi Oksanen’s record-breaking, prize-winning Puhdistus (Purge, WSOY; first published in 2008) was still in fifth place, with 52,000 copies sold.

Among translated fiction books were, as usual, names like Patricia Cornwell, Dan Brown and Liza Marklund.

In non-fiction, the weather, fickle and fierce, seems to be a subject of endless interest to Finns; the list was topped by Sääpäiväkirja 2011 (‘Weather book 2011’, Otava), with a whopping 140,000 copies. Number two was the Guinness World Records 2011, but with just 43,000 copies. Books on wine, cookery and garden were popular. A book on Finnish history after the civil war, Vihan ja rakkauden liekit (‘Flames of hate and love’, Otava) by Sirpa Kähkönen, made it to number 8 on the list.

The Finnish children’s books best-sellers’ list was topped by the latest picture book by Mauri Kunnas, Hurja-Harri ja pullon henki (‘Wild Harry and the genie’, Otava), selling almost 66,000 copies. As usual, Walt Disney ruled the roost in the translated fiction list.

The Finnish comics list was dominated by Pertti Jarla (his Fingerpori series books sold more than 70,000 copies, almost as much as Remes’ Shokkiaalto!) and Juba Tuomola (Viivi and Wagner series; both mostly published by Arktinen Banaani): between them, they grabbed 14 places out of 20!

In praise of melancholy

28 May 2009 | Authors, Essays, Non-fiction, On writing and not writing

In this series, Finnish authors ponder the difficulties of their profession. Sirpa Kähkönen, author of six novels, gives an account of going unseen – the painful initiation, triggered by the lukewarm reception of one of her books, of a more mature and profound phase in her life as a creative writer

I found myself in a temporary but intense period of creative crisis in the spring of 2006. The crisis was expressed outwardly in the classic manner – as an emptiness, a desertification. Suddenly I was unable to get to the place between dream and reality where an artist operates. Something was missing from my writing; the spark, the vibration, the lifeblood. More…

Archives open!

12 December 2014 | This 'n' that

Illustration: Hannu Konttinen

Illustration: Hannu Konttinen

For 41 years, from 1967 to 2008, Books from Finland was a printed journal. In 1976, after a decade of existence as not much more than a pamphlet, it began to expand: with more editorial staff and more pages, hundreds of Finnish books and authors were featured in the following decades.

Those texts remain archive treasures.

In 1998 Books from Finland went online, partially: we set up a website of our own, offering a few samples of text from each printed issue. In January 2009 Books from Finland became an online journal in its entirety, now accessible to everyone.

We then decided that we would digitise material from the printed volumes of 1976 to 2008: samples of fiction and related interviews, reviews, and articles should become part of the new website.

The process took a couple of years – thank you, diligent Finnish Literature Exchange (FILI) interns (and Johanna Sillanpää) : Claire Saint-Germain, Bruna di Pastena, Merethe Kristiansen, Franziska Fiebig, Saara Wille and Claire Dickenson! – and now it’s time to start publishing the results. We’re going to do so volume by volume, going backwards.

The first to go online was the fiction published in 2008: among the authors are the poets Tomi Kontio and Rakel Liehu and prose writers Helvi Hämäläinen (1907–1998), Sirpa Kähkönen, Maritta Lintunen, Arne Nevanlinna, Hagar Olsson (1893–1979), Juhani Peltonen (1941–1998) and Mika Waltari (1908–1979).

To introduce these new texts, we will feature a box on our website, entitled New from the archives, where links will take you to the new material. The digitised texts work in the same way as the rest of the posts, using the website’s search engine (although for technical reasons we have been unable to include all the original pictures).



By the time we reach the year 1976, there will be texts by more than 400 fiction authors on our website. We are proud and delighted that the printed treasures of past decades – the best of the Finnish literature published over the period – will be available to all readers of Books from Finland.

The small world of Finnish fiction will be even more accessible to the great English-speaking universe. Read on!

Vieraita työssä. Työelämän etnistyvä eriarvoisuus [Foreign workforce. Increasingly ethnic inequality in working life]

21 January 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Vieraita työssä. Työelämän etnistyvä eriarvoisuus
[Foreign workforce. Increasingly ethnic inequality in working life]
Toim. [Editors]: Sirpa Wrede & Camilla Nordberg
Helsinki: Gaudeamus, 2010. 285 p.
ISBN 978-951-570-776-5
€20, paperback

There has been a great deal of discussion in Finland about whether educated people should be recruited from abroad for high-level positions, and whether immigrants with lower levels of education could redress the labour shortage in low-paid fields. In this collection of twelve scholarly articles, sociologists have situated immigrants into the field of research into the workplace. This book seeks answers to questions about the factors that hamper immigrants’ acceptance into Finnish society and how ethnic otherness is determined in public discourse by those in positions of power within society. The fields of work investigated include health care, food service, building trades and highly skilled immigrants. Immigrants’ perception of discrimination in hiring is addressed in an article by Pakistani-born Akhlaq Ahmad, based on his PhD thesis. Ahmad himself replied to 400 job advertisements and compared his progress in the recruitment process to the experiences of a Finnish test subject with similar educational qualifications. He received a favourable response rate of 1.5 percent, compared to 25% for the Finnish control. This book also considers media images of immigrants and traditional ethnic hierarchies in the workplace.