Author: Anja Snellman

Briefcase man

Issue 4/2000 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the novel Aura (Otava, 2000). Introduction by Mervi Kantokorpi

He was born in the Russian Grand Duchy of Finland the year the world caught fire. He learned to read the year of the revolution, and spoke two languages as his mother tongue border – language and enemy language, as he often used to say. He was proud of only one of his languages; the other, he loved secretly. He spoke one loudly, the other softly, almost in a whisper.

At night, on the telephone, he spoke far away – you could see it, even in the dark, from his expression, his half-closed eyes sometimes breaking into song. It was so beautiful and soft that I wept under the blankets and hated myself because of the effect that language had on me.

Stinking tinker Karelian trickster Russian drinker, little Russky’s dancing in a leather skirt, skirt tears and oh! little Russky’s hurt.

Count to ten, he said. But count in Finnish. Or Swedish, that’ll baffle them. And if they call you a Swedish bastard, it’s not so bad. I’ve taught you the numbers in Arabic and Spanish, too, but I don’t think you’ll be able to remember them yet. More…


Issue 1/1994 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the novel Ihon aika (‘The time of the skin’, WSOY, 1993). Introduction by Suvi Ahola

In the hospital they stare at us, enquiringly, as if we are abandoning her. They look in turn at our mother’s half-conscious, ulcerous body, at the nurse who, curling her lip, cuts mother’s knickers, housecoat and apron off her, at us, the exhausted ones, who are now only at the beginning of our real work. They fill in their forms and ask their official questions; they do not know how anguished and relieved we shall be in a moment when we may leave our mother to them, that ironically smiling, wounded woman who is still, with her last strength, attempting to kick the nurse who is pouring warm water on her bloody feet.

I gaze at mother’s battered body with something like greed; I feel the same kind of curiosity toward this shocking sight as when I was four and we were in the bathroom together. I was shy, I tried to spy on mother’s fleshy body, her luxuriantly curving skin, through the mirror, but I was always left with the feeling that I had seen too little, I had been able to understand only a small part of what my eyes had registered. More…