Author: Harry Forsblom

Totalitarian tendencies

Issue 4/2003 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Olli Jalonen is a master at creating a sense of dystopia, alienation and what it feels like to end up in the wrong place. He skilfully homes in on aspects of our everyday reality which resemble totalitarian tendencies, underlining them and their deadly implications through understatement, and by setting them in environments which are either utopian or skilfully alienated, seemingly realistic and neutral.

Jalonen is not a true satirist, but he has a flair for depicting people’s motives and changes in their identities in situations exploring the boundaries of ‘the normal’. Circumstances which unwittingly uphold repulsive social control, modifying human values, circumstances in which people die, into which they are forced, or against which they lamely revolt, are at the heart of Jalonen’s work. Equally important is the documentary-style reportage of the lives of people who are in danger of being forgotten about by history. More…

Surviving mammals

Issue 2/2003 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Arto Virtanen (born 1947) has written a couple of thousand reviews, including art reviews. His own career as a writer began in 1970 with the poetry collection Kaikki liikkeessä (‘Everything in motion’); it was followed by collections of short stories and novels. Virtanen, who trained at the Finnish Academy of Art, comes from a working-class background. His novels Tyhjä testamentti (‘Empty testament’, 1992,) and Koiran vuosi (‘The year of the dog’, 1995) deal with men’s mid-life crises through figures rather similar to their main characters. The same starting point is evident in his new collection of short stories, Vapiseva sydän (‘Tremulous heart’, Tammi,2002,). More…