Author: Rosa Liksom


2 October 2014 | Fiction, Prose

Rosa Liksom’s first book, in 1985, was a collection of short prose; she has also written novels, children’s books, plays, comic and picture books. Her new book, Väliaikainen (‘Temporary’, Like, 2014) – a return to her signature very short prose – features beasts, machines and men

He’s there in the living room. We’ve gotta be very quiet. I left the computer on, and the reading lamp. I’ll go in and turn them off, quietly. Or the computer at least. I can watch Emmerdale on the little tv in the kitchen. You wait here. OK, I turned off the computer but I left the lamp on so I wouldn’t wake him up. I put his nap blanket over him. He’s laying on his left side now. That’s good. Whenever he wakes up on his right side he gets awfully grumpy. Let’s go in the kitchen so we don’t disturb him. The poor guy. It’s been hours since he’s had a good sleep. You know, I think it’s the depression again. It started on Monday when he was supposed to go to his guide’s job.He didn’t taste his breakfast, even though I brought it to him in bed. I had to go to the hospital, my shift was starting, and he just laid there in the bedroom with his eyes open… I don’t know how long it’s gonna last this time. Last month he was depressed for three days. I think it’ll pass more quickly this time because he’s napping a little bit, and licking his paw now and again.

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Back in the USSR

3 October 2011 | Fiction, Prose

Extracts from Rosa Liksom’s novel Hytti nro 6 (‘Compartment no 6’, WSOY, 2011). Review by Mervi Kantokorpi

Moscow hunched itself in the dry, frosty March night, protecting itself from the touch of the icy red sun as it set. The girl entered the train’s last sleeping carriage, found her compartment, compartment number six, and breathed deeply. There were four beds in the compartment, the upper ones folded agains the wall, while between the beds was a small table, on the table a white table cloth and a plastic flower vase containing a bunch of pink paper carnations, faded by time; the shelf above the end of the bed was full of large, untidily secured parcels. The girl shoved her modest old suitcase, the one she had got from Zahar, into the metal luggage space under the hard, narrow bed; her small backpack she threw on the bed. When the station bell sounded for the first time, the girl went to stand by the corridor window. She breathed in the scent of the train, iron, coal-dust, the smells left behind by dozens of cities and thousands of people. Travellers and those who had come to see them off pushed past her, shoving her with their cases and parcels. The girl touched the cold window with her hand and looked at the platform. This train would take her through villages inhabited by deportees, through the open and closed towns of Siberia to the capital of Mongolia, Ulan Bator. More…

How I saved the world for communism

Issue 3/1996 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the novel Kreisland (WSOY, 1996). Rosa Liksom’s first novel is a picaresque story of a heroine whose adventures range through Finland, Soviet Russia and America. Introduction by Soila Lehtonen

Maid Agafiina: Got myself some shiny black rubber boots, the kind with the red felt lining, and a colorful crepe de chine dress and a rayon coat, and while shopping for all that I checked out the four wonders of Moscow: a bell that doesn’t ring, a cannon you can’t fire, a ruler who doesn’t speak, and money that doesn’t stink.

In no time at all I made up a new personality, learned the language real good, and obtained a Soviet citizen’s passport. I was totally excited by everything I’d seen. My cheeks were as red as the flag. I wanted to find out about everything and see every achievement of this huge Soviet land. More…

Virtual realities

Issue 3/1993 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Prose pieces from Bamalama (WSOY, 1993)

After eating his family, he went abroad. There was a heatwave in Torremolinos. The sandy beaches were empty despite the Mediterranean waves’ enticing glitter. Although it was so hot, not a trace of the sun could be seen in the sky, and no clouds either. He sat in an armchair in his modest hotel room and breathed deeply. He thought about the pretty young girls on the beaches just waiting to be casually plucked, bony adolescent bodies, opulent and luscious adult female forms, and lips beyond all powers of description. He sat there, and time passed. Soon darkness spread over the beach, and he could see nothing but velvety black nothingness stretching out to the horizon. He was overcome by a powerful sense of fear, caused by the bleak desolation of the scene, this gloomy darkness that covered and hid the millions of shades of natural colors. He accepted his feelings and let them flow into himself, because he knew that morning, sunrise, and the play of nature’s colors down there on the beach boulevards, would resuscitate within him a great dreamer, impervious to the storms of the world. More…

Brief lives

Issue 3/1989 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Rosa Liksom’s characters live in the tiny villages of empty Lapland, speaking a dialect that rings oddly in the ears of the southern Finnish majority; or they may inhabit anonymous towns, but there, too, life is full of the anguish of existence. Liksom, whose black comedy can be compared with that of the Danish writer Vita Andersen, is able to cram into her short texts complete life histories, bizarre, comic or tragic. Her first volume of short stories, Yhden yön pysäkki (‘One night stand’) appeared in 1985; the following short stories are from Tyhjän tien paratiisit (‘Paradises of the open road’, 1989)

We got hitched up the 14th of November and by the end of the month it was all over. As far as I’m concerned call it a marriage exactly two weeks too long. We hadn’t set eyes on each other till the Pampam that’s the place me and the girls go after work for a drink and I was sitting there having one with them when who comes through the door but this bloke and it hits me. That bloke’s for me. In the end I went over to his table and said up yours stud. We went over to my place to bunk down and after that I couldn’t get the sod out. The bloody shitbag got his claws into me and hung on just on the strength of that one night. He glued himself to my bed. Lay there flat out when I set off to work and shit he was still there when I came back only arse up this time. More…

One night stand

Issue 1/1987 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Stories from Yhden yön pysäkki (‘One night stand’, 1985) and Unohdettu vartti (‘The forgotten quarter’, 1986). Introduction by Pekka Tarkka

At the beginning of November it really started to freeze. A month earlier than usual. There was little snow to speak of, but the ground froze hard as bone.

Tamed by hunger, reindeer clustered along the roadsides and on the village outskirts. Many of them ended their misery by flinging themselves under the timber-lorries in the evening dark. Bony and bloody carcasses littered the ditches and field-edges.

Then the snowstorms came. It snowed without stop for nearly two weeks. At times the whole landscape was reduced to a white line. Snowdrifts mounted round the houses and up the snow fences. The reindeer carcasses lay about under the snowbanks, waiting for spring. More…