Author: Martti Joenpolvi

How to win literary prizes

Issue 3/1991 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

A short story from Terveessä ruumiissa (‘In a healthy body’, Gummerus, 1990)

Later, as he mulled over the moments just before it all happened – with himself delivering his appreciative peroration to the prizewinner in the front row – the Chairman of the Prize Committee could recall no warning sign. Antti was tense, of course, but, considering his artistic sensitivity and the hundred-strong audience, there was nothing abnormal about that.

The Chairman was improvising from scanty notes: only the finishing touch was written out in full:

‘And so, with immense gratitude, we shall store up your many achievements in our hearts and minds.’ More…

The attentive lover

Issue 4/1988 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

In this short story, from his collection Pronssikausi (‘The bronze age’, 1988, on the Finlandia Prize shortlist in 1989), Martti Joenpolvi takes up the subject of the problematic transportation of a human cargo

He braked abruptly; the woman lurched forward, straining against the seat belt, and the car drove into the parking space. The only vehicle parked there was a solitary trailer loaded with timber: a resinous pulpwood-odour came wafting through their open window, so physical, it was as if someone were snooping into the car’s most intimate interior. When they stopped, they got the whiff of a yellow refuse bin, incubated in the heat of the day.

‘What’s up?’

‘We’ve got a problem.’ More…

The Cheap Contractor

Issue 2/1986 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

From Kauan kukkineet omenapuut (‘Long-blossoming apple trees’, 1982). Introduction by Arto Seppälä 

The men who delivered the hot-water cylinder offered to do the installation as well. I asked how much it would be. They lolled about a bit, exchanged a few private looks, pretended to be thinking. Then one of them fired off a sum. It was three times the quotation I’d already had. They didn’t even look at the location. I told myself I wouldn’t even go to the end of the road with big-dealers like these.

The same evening I rang up ‘a little man’ and told him he could get started as soon as it suited him.

The cheap contractor turned up a couple of days later, driving an elderly van into the yard. I went out. He’d sat himself down in a garden chair near the white lilacs. The morning sun only partially reached there; so half his body was in shade, looking colder than the sunny half. More…