Author: Jukka Petäjä

Local heroes

Issue 3/1998 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Two collections of short stories, two strong displays of a diverse literary talent. Two books: the first received the Helsingin Sanomat Literary Award for the best first book in 1995, the second the Savonia Prize; it was also shortlisted for the Runeberg Prize. Sari Mikkonen received the Suomi Prize for young artists in 1997. Those are the high points of the career of this 31-year-old writer to date. Not bad.

Born in Juankoski, in eastern Fin­land, Mikkonen is a writer who is exciting because she both continues and innovates a great tradition in Finnish literature. She is a latterday F.E. Sillanpää, the chronicler of the slow life of the Finnish countryside who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1939. Mikkonen describes remote districts with the boldness of the contemporary writer Rosa Liksom. In her short stories, she often describes people in traditional surroundings – people who are no longer countryfolk, but are not yet townspeople, either. To her, juxtaposition of things is more interesting that choosing one and rejecting the other. ‘You can’t be either–or; you have to be both–and. There are no absolute truths in the world,’ she has commented. More…

Formal logic

Issue 4/1995 | Archives online, Authors, Interviews, Reviews

Maarit Verronen’s novel, Pimeästä maasta (‘Out of the Land of Darkness’), inhabits the borderland between science fiction and fantasy. It is also a classic story of the demands of integrity in a harsh and prescriptive world. It is set daringly on the far side of time and place: the name of its main character is Ulthyraja Tharabereghist, from which one can already deduce that the novel does not deal with the real world. Pimeästä maasta is a cleverly constructed novel which surprises its reader in many different ways. The first surprise is that Verronen does not define her main character’s gender. The structure of the Finnish language, in which the personal pronoun does not reveal the gender of the person to whom it refers, makes this possible. More…

A life of letters

Issue 3/1995 | Archives online, Authors

Death is a central theme in the poetry 
of Eeva-Liisa Manner (1921–1995). In many poems she
 described the proximity of death and 
the last frontier in order to conquer
 death and laugh at it – often grimly,
 sometimes cheerlessly.

But actually I died ages ago,
 and when death comes, when it strikes
 the body that wears my clothes,
 it's all a predestined rendezvous:
 movement stops, words scatter like snow,
         the eyes' apparitions
 are off like a flight of pigeons....

Manner wrote in a collection entitled
 Niin vaihtuvat vuoden ajat (‘So change the
 seasons’), which appeared as early 
as 1964. More…

Beneath the surface

Issue 2/1992 | Archives online, Authors

Kari Aronpuro (born 1940) is not a traditional poet. Rather, he is a loader and unloader of meaning – a deconstructionist who continually encodes and decodes the meanings communicated by language. ‘I do not speak language/ language speaks me,’ he wrote in 1981.

Moving freely outside the mainstream of literature, Aronpuro writes poems whose meaning flows exuberantly from one sentence to the next and constantly plays tricks with the reader’s expectations. Unmoved by the dialogue between soul and nature so very familiar in Finnish poetry, he examines, instead, the interaction between consciousness and meaning. More…