Author: Margareta Neovius Deschner

Home and solitude

Issue 3/1984 | Archives online, Authors

Eeva Kilpi

Eeva Kilpi. Photo: Veikko Somerpuro

By Eeva Kilpi’s own admission, the genre of the short story seems best suited for her themes. But she has also gained recognition as a novelist and poet, both inside and outside Finland. Among the many Finnish authors who have read and traveled widely, Kilpi assumes a somewhat unique position: the wider contemporary world with its interlocking problems can be sensed as the broader context of her writing; yet the foreground actions of her stories, with a few notable exceptions, take place in Finland, often in the backwoods of the Eastern border districts. Likewise, her main characters are unmistakably Finnish, from teenagers spouting Helsinki slang to old folks lapsing into a colorful Karelian dialect.

Eeva Kilpi was born in 1928 in Hiitola on the Karelian isthmus. Her latest novel, Elämän evakkona (‘Life’s refugees’, 1983) demonstrates again the author’s capacity for casting into the foreground gripping individual life stories while opening up in the background the epic journey of Finnish Karelians, uprooted in the last war from home and village and sent wandering around Finland in search of new livelihoods, homes and roots. Kilpi’s story is poignantly Finnish and reflects the journey she herself at the age of eleven started with her family from Hiitola. But it fits into the larger context of our own time, which produces growing numbers of evacuees and refugees with stories largely untold. More…