Author: Tuomas Kyrö

We are the champions

25 March 2011 | Prose

Heroes are still in demand, in sports at least. In his new book author Tuomas Kyrö examines the glorious past and the slightly less glorious present of Finnish sports – as well as the meaning of sports in the contemporary world where it is ‘indispensable for the preservation of nation states’. And he poses a knotty question: what is the difference, in the end, between sports and arts? Are they merely two forms of entertainment?

Extracts from Urheilukirja (‘The book about sports’, WSOY, 2011; see also Mielensäpahoittaja [‘Taking offence’])

The whole idea of Finland has been sold to us based on Hannes Kolehmainen ‘running Finland onto the world map’. [c. 1912–1922; four Olympic gold medals]. Our existence has been defined by how we are known abroad. Sport, [the Nobel Prize -winning author] F. E. Sillanpää, forestry, [Ms Universe] Armi Kuusela, [another runner] Lasse Viren, Nokia, [rock bands] HIM and Lordi, Martti Ahtisaari.

The purpose of sport at the grass-roots level has been to tend to the health of the nation and at a higher level to take our boys out into the world to beat all the other countries’ boys. We may not know how to talk, but our running endurance is all the better for it. However, the most important message was directed inwards, at our self image: we are the best even though we’re poor; we can endure more than the rest. Finnish success during the interwar period projected an image of a healthy, tenacious and competitive nation; political division meant division into good and bad, the right-minded and traitors to the fatherland. More…

Misery me

30 June 2010 | Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the collection of short prose, Mielensäpahoittaja (‘Taking offense’, WSOY, 2010)

Past pushing up daisies

Well, yeah, so I took offense when the doctor said that considering my age I’m in tip-top shape. His theory was that my 25-kilometre ski circuits would keep an old coot like me in shape, if they didn’t kill me first. He said if I were to start just sitting on the couch and waiting, then the Reaper would be on my back in no time.

I don’t ski for my health. I ski because it’s pretty in the forest, and when a body is sweating he doesn’t think a whole lot. More…

In search of the spirit

13 November 2009 | Authors, Essays, Non-fiction, On writing and not writing

Writer's block

In this series, Finnish authors ponder their trade. Tuomas Kyrö – author of the extraordinary novelistic chronicle of the birth of capitalism Benjamin Kivi, which you can read here – found himself lost for words. Liberation came with the realisation that, unlike in television, in books it is the writer, and the reader, who are in charge, and the only limits are those of the human imagination

In May 2009, after a year of writing, I held in my hand the manuscript of a novel whose plot and characters were complete. There was a subject, theme and the occasional good passage, but something was badly wrong.

When I swapped roles, writer for reader, I realised that my text did not touch the skin, and certainly did not get under the skin. I had wanted do more than raise a smile; I had thought I was writing a book that would make its readers want to turn the page, I had wanted to provoke, to cause laughter and even perhaps tears. Now all that my text provoked in the reader – me – was embarrassment and boredom.

What was wrong? More…

On the make

31 December 2007 | Fiction, Prose

Extracts from the novel Benjamin Kivi (WSOY, 2007). Introduction by Lauri Sihvonen

Benjamin Kivi alias Into Penger, the 1930s

What was Kuihkä worth? What were this little man and his sons worth? What was I worth?

I drove where the little man told me to, with no lights, through a densely populated area. I could only see half a meter in front of me, trying to sense the bends and curves in the road and still keep Tallus’ car in good shape. When we got to the woods I turned on the lights and glanced at the little man sitting next to me. He was stuffing a handkerchief into his sleeve like an old housewife. The top of his head was sweating. He brushed his hair back and shoved his cap down on his head.

I had two hours to think as I drove, but it felt like a few minutes. If I didn’t drive the car, someone else would have, everything would happen just like the little man had planned, and I wouldn’t know anything about Kuihkä. What was I going to do, watch while he was thrown to the wolves? Kuihkä rescued me once. Was it meant to be that I should drive the car? Was I meant to change the course of events? How many coincidences can there be in one lifetime, and what do they signify? If events weren’t random, then what the hell was I supposed to do? More…