Author: Daniel Katz

The love of the Berber lion

30 December 2008 | Fiction, Prose

A short story from the novel Berberileijonan rakkaus ja muita tarinoita (‘The love of the Berber lion and other stories’, WSOY, 2008). Introduction by Janna Kantola

The lion’s name was Muthul. He was an old Berber lion from the Atlas Mountains. He had a black mane, a black tail with a bushy tip and the scars of many battles on his hide.

He had grown up as a lion cub in the royal palace at Carthage at the time when the Romans, led by Scipio the younger, destroyed the city with fire and sword. The palace was set ablaze, a bloody battle ensued in the gardens, Romans impaled on arrows lay strewn in the rose bushes, Carthaginian blood dyed the water in the fountains. Someone had let all the palace animals, wild and tame alike, out of their cages; they were running around wildly, killing each other in the grip of panic, then disappeared inexplicably. More…

Blind man’s buff

31 March 2002 | Fiction, Prose

An extract from the novel Laituri matkalla mereen (‘A jetty to the sea’, WSOY, 2001)

Ten steps along the path marked out by the poet

In a gravel pit illegally dug by the sand-king Gropius and later abandoned, the colonel and Henry were shooting at tin cans with pistols. The pit neighboured the Colonel’s home, and he was in the habit of carrying out target practice there with the help of Jovan, to keep his hand in.

The cans were placed at twenty-metre intervals in front of a sandbank and were raised on coil springs, so they swayed freely in the air. Each of them was attached to a long line; this, when pulled, swayed the cans, rattling stones inside them. Following the sound, the colonel identified the can’s position, aimed and fired. The hits he heard himself, the misses usually struck the pieces of hardboard behind the cans. These were divided up dartboard-fashion into sectors and rings, and Jovan used binoculars to spot the hits on them and announce the points of impact as clock-numbers and distances from the can’s central position, enabling the colonel to correct his aim. This he did with the aid of a rake. He held the rake upright, prongs downwards, so that its handle stood roughly perpendicular to the ground. Moving the handle sideways with careful estimation, and sliding his pistol hand up or down on the handle, he was able to make corrections with reasonable accuracy and determine his aim. More…

On the bridge

Issue 2/1993 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

From Saksalainen sikakoira (‘Schweinehund’, WSOY, 1992). Introduction by Tuva Korsström

From somewhere beneath the bridge – I still hadn’t managed to get across it, which may sound pathetic, or even ridiculous, unless you take into account my exceptional state of mind – or, rather, to one side, I heard a dragging, ominous grinding and rumbling. It stopped for a moment; then, after a short but clearly defined pause, there was a heavy splash. A snow-plough was emptying its load into the bay from the end of the pier. The mounds of snow sank deep into the black water; the tightly packed, sticky snow rose slowly to the surface in greyish-yellow blocks and clods; loose pieces of snow boiled and foamed in the eddies and melted before my eyes. My time was melting away, too, being junked, my remaining time… More…

Face to face

Issue 4/1989 | Archives online, Authors, Fiction, Prose

Daniel Katz interviewed by himself

I’m awaiting Daniel Katz surrounded by the wooden walls of his study, in what was formerly an old corn-shed.

‘For me,’ his wife confides, ‘he knocked together a study out of a stall in the cowshed.’ Then she withdraws to her cowpen, where she’s translating Bellman’s songs from Swedish.

Through the study window I can see a bit of eastern-Uusimaa forest, the village lane, and the corner of the family’s reddle-daubed peasant hut. A little distance away, like this, the boarding looks in better shape than it does close-up. The family dog, a Lapphund, is lying on the sofa and keeping a trained eye on me: with no reindeer to herd, he’ll make do with me. More…

The house in Silesia

Issue 4/1989 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

A short story from Talo Šleesiassa (‘ The house in Silesia’, 1983). Read the interview

We set off, my brother-in-law and I, at the beginning of September. The tourist season was already over, and on the Gdansk ferry there was stacks of room for my brother-in law’s Volvo and the two of us.

We’d driven from his home on the shore of Lake Mälar to the ferry port at Nynäshamn, about fifty miles south of Stockholm. We’d driven in an atmosphere of cheerful resolution, accelerator down, but going steadily. The resoluteness was due to my brother-in-law’s decision after forty years’ absence to visit his childhood home. If it was still standing, that is – or whatever of it was.

‘Oh the house is definitely still in place there all right,’ he said: ‘I’ve got that sort of tickly feeling in my arse.’ It was a direct translation from the German – German humour of the vulgar variety centring round the bottom. More…


Issue 4/1980 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

An excerpt from Laturi (‘The explosives expert’, 1979). Introduction by Pekka Tarkka

“It only took one good bash!” With tears in his eyes, chuckling and spluttering, Korppi, the sentimentalist, told the story of Linda’s love affair. Korppi hadn’t been an old codger then; like Chekov’s Versinin, he could have been dubbed the love-lorn major, although he was only a lieutenant for he had loved little Linda when he had been an officer guarding the refugees interned on Suursaari: interned not for their safety but for the protection of his country. “She loved getting parcels, oh yes, but she didn’t give a damn for me! And did I take what belonged to me?

Yes! No! I nibbled here and there but I never swallowed a whole bite … On the other hand, there were some who took a bite and swallowed it, one of them was called …”

“Selim!” shouted Enver.

Selim, that jelly. He was Korppi’s subordinate on guard duty, and had he known the other fellow had been flirting with Linda he would have killed her! But how could he have known? What took place under a clump of hills along a wooded lake shore… More…