Author: Arto Seppälä

On Martti Joenpolvi

Issue 2/1986 | Archives online, Authors

Martti Joenpolvi. Photo: SKS archives

Martti Joenpolvi. Photo: SKS archives

Martti Joenpolvi made his literary debut in 1959 at the age of 23, a young man who had been evacuated twice during the course of the Second World War and had eventually settled in an industrial town in the Häme region of southern Finland.

His first novel, Kevään kuusi päivää (‘Six days in spring’), was in the best tradition of the so-called working-class novel. The book described a young worker’s inner struggles and his quest for life from much the same standpoint as the classic novels of Väinö Linna, Lauri Viita and Toivo Pekkanen.

About ten years later Martti Joenpolvi began to write short stories, which were to prove an important complement to his as a novelist. At the same time he his narrative technique: his use of language become clearer and more.polished, and his unaffected style gained power through the use of symbolism and a dryish wit. At the same time his characters began to move in more middle-class surroundings; these people now had a position in society from which to view the world. More…

They believe in Father Christmas

Issue 4/1982 | Archives online, Authors, Interviews

Mauri Kunnas

Mauri Kunnas. Photo: Otava / Katja Lösönen

Mauri Kunnas, 32, says he believes in Father Christmas more than ever before. His wife Tarja agrees; she and her husband work together in their studio in Turku on the illustrated children’s books that have won them fame in Finland and abroad. It is easy to believe the truth of the young artists’ protestations: the success of their book Joulupukki, or Santa Claus, must have seemed like a gift from Father Christmas. It appeared in the early autumn of 1981 and was taken to the Frankfurt Book Fair by its publishers, Otava, where it attracted more attention than any Finnish book had done previously. Rights immediately went to ten countries, from Japan to Canada, and four more contracts have since been concluded. Arto Seppälä intervews Mauri and Tarja Kunnas

Mauri Kunnas says he has drawn all his life. He intended to study law, but his sister persuaded him to go to art school instead. Towards the end of his course, short of money, Kunnas began to draw a strip cartoon for a Helsinki evening paper. He progressed to cartoons – but at present his plans for new books keep him too busy to contemplate anything else.

Mauri Kunnas’s first book was Suomalainen tonttukirja (‘The book of Finnish fairies’, 1979). ‘I never thought I would write children’s books until the fairy idea came into my head,’ he says. ‘At that time I was unhappily employed in an advertising agency, and life wasn’t living up to my expectations. I wanted to splash out, try something new. The fairy idea came to me as the result of a chance conversation about the Finnish world of faerie – elves, gnomes, guardian spirits and so on. More…