Author: Marianne Bargum

Island epic

Issue 1/1990 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Ulla-Lena Lundberg‘s novel Leo was one of last autumn’s best-sellers: written in Swedish, it was published simultaneously in Finnish, and praised unanimously by critics in both languages. The first volume of a trilogy, Leo tells of the lives of Åland shipowners and their families at a time when men sailed the seas and women’s lot was to wait at home. Lundberg’s story is at the same time old-fashioned, with its finely drawn portraits, and a modernist structured novel that rises above everyday realism.

‘In Åland literature is peripheral;’ says Ulla-Lena Lundberg in the Helsinki bookshop where she is signing copies of Leo. Nevertheless, the Åland (in Finnish, Ahvenanmaa) islands, between Finland and Sweden, have bred some important writers. I am thinking, for example, of Sally Salminen, whose Katrina (1936) is one of the most translated Finnish novels. And at present there is the influential writer Johannes Salminen, an essayist and pointed polemicist in many areas (he also happens to be Ulla-Lena Lundberg’s publisher). More…

The art of travelling light

Issue 3/1988 | Archives online, Authors

Tove Jansson‘s third collection of short stories, Resa med lätt bagage (‘Travelling light’) strengthens her position as a writer for adults, with her own intensely personal style and choice of subject.

At the same time new editions of her Moomin books for children are published continually, and the books go on attracting new readers throughout the world. Tove Jansson says she receives over 2,000 letters a year, and she answers them all individually by hand. More…


Issue 2/1987 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

Raija Siekkinen

Raija Siekkinen. Photo: Irmeli Jung

When the first collection of short stories by Raija Siekkinen (born 1953), entitled Talven tulo (‘The coming of winter’, 1978) appeared, the critics were unanimous on one point: here was a mature writer with an original, individual voice. For her second collection, Tuomitut (‘The condemned’, 1982), Raija Siekkinen received the coveted Kalevi Jäntti Prize. Since then she has remained faithful to the short story. And since the publication of her fourth collection, Pieni valhe (‘A small lie’), the reader has been able to trace a development in which she has polished and tightened her narrative and brought to it more and more poetic and symbolic elements.

The main character in Raija Siekkinen’s short stories is generally a woman, not old but not very young either, often alone, sometimes broken by illness. Death is a recurring theme with Siekkinen; illness withers her women, her men die sometimes by their own hand. Siekkinen writes seldom about children; when she does so, it is from a child’s point of view. This perspective results in a critique of the narrow and restricted world view of adults. But always sensitively, never pointing the finger. More…