Search results for "aulikki oksanen"

We Finns

15 January 2010 | Columns, Tales of a journalist

Illustration: Joonas Väänänen

Is it so bad to criticise a Finn, if you’re a Finn? Columnist Jyrki Lehtola takes another look at what you think about us Finns out there

Recently, the word ’Finland’ has been repeated in Finland, and generalisations made about what we Finns are like.

Last year saw the seventieth anniversary of the Winter War, and we congratulated ourselves on what a fine fighting nation we are.

A government branding work group tells us at regular intervals how creative a nation we are.

From time to time someone remembers to mention the sauna, while someone else is a little more critical and says we are also an envious nation. More…

Just business?

24 September 2010 | Letter from the Editors

Money, money, money... Photo: Twid/Wikipedia

Through his work, a writer provides a living for both himself and his publisher. The publisher makes his profit through the work of his writers, and both parties are satisfied. Is this how it goes?

The novel Puhdistus (Purge, 2008) by the Finnish author Sofi Oksanen (born 1977) has been translated into 13 languages, including English, and by now it has sold who knows how many copies.

One would imagine her publisher would like to live happily ever after with his superstar, and perhaps also vice versa – for WSOY (est. 1878) has long been one of the most powerful, as well as the most enlightened, publishing houses in Finland. More…

Finnish best-sellers in Estonia

8 February 2010 | In the news

In mid-January four books out of ten on the best-sellers’ list in Estonia were translations of Finnish books: a history of Estonia by Seppo Zetterberg (Viron historia, 2007, number 1), a book on 20th-century Estonian history edited by Sofi Oksanen and Imbi Paju (Kaiken takana oli pelko, ‘Fear behind it all’, 2009, number 6), the 2008 Finlandia Prize-winning novel, set in 20th-century Estonia, by Sofi Oksanen (Puhdistus, ‘Purge’, number 7) and a new translation of the classic 1940s novel Sinuhe, egyptiläinen (English translation, Sinuhe the Egyptian) by Mika Waltari (number 10).

Oksanen’s novel was the second on the list of best-sellers in 2009. The list is run by Apollo bookstore chain; the largest in Estonia, it has ten shops in four cities and an internet shop. Apollo is owned by the Finnish Sanoma Trade, one of the five divisions of Sanoma Group, an European media corporation with activities in 20 countries and net sales of 3,030.1 million €.

Is it a play, is it a book?

25 February 2011 | This 'n' that

On the way to fame: Walt the Wonder Boy in Kristian Smeds's stage adaptation of Paul Auster's novel Mr. Vertigo at the Finnish National Theatre (2010). Photo: Antti Ahonen

Dramatisations of novels are tricky. Finnish theatremakers like adapting novels for the stage, which often results in a lot of talking instead of action – and action here doesn’t refer to just physical movement but to the subtext, to what happens under and behind the words.

Currently an adaptation of an American novel is running on the main stage of the Finnish National Theatre in Helsinki. Mr Vertigo (1994), Paul Auster’s seventh book, tells the story of an orphan boy in the 1930s St Louis. After harsh years as the long-suffering apprentice of the mysterious Master Yehudi, Walt becomes the sensational Wonder Boy by learning how to levitate.

In theatremaker Kristian Smeds’s adaptation, Auster’s whimsical, rambling novel becomes a capricious, illusory journey about illusions, freedom, and the unattainability of love. Walt (the highly expressive, athletic Tero Jartti) interprets, with hilarious comedy as well as with touching desperation, both the dizzyingly powerful experience of creativity and the ridiculous hubris of the artist. More…

Drama news

20 May 2010 | In the news

Tragedy and comedy: mosaic masks from Hadrian's villa (Capitoline Museum, Rome, 2nd century CE)

A new internet service aims to provide information about Finnish drama and its writers. is operated by the Finnish Dramatists’ Union, which has entered into partnerships with international drama agents in order to promote Finnish plays.

This year, Finnish plays that are to be performed abroad include Sofi Oksanen’s Purge (Puhdistus; Oksanen’s multi-prize-winning novel (you’ll find a sample from the English translation, by Lola Rogers, through the link) began life as a play at the Finnish National Theatre, appearing in print a year later), Reko Lundán’s Unnecessary people (Tarpeettomia ihmisiä), to be performed in Estonia and in Hong Kong, and Sirkku Peltola’s The Finnhorse (Suomenhevonen), in Iceland.

The website also features a catalogue of plays in translation, plus a search service for Finnish plays in various languages.

Finnish theatre doesn’t travel easily, never has – it’s a long way from here down to European theatre festivals, for example, taking place mostly in the south. But Finnish drama has began to travel more than ever, as new translations of plays into various languages have been made – and they, in turn, have made their way into theatres, in Europe and in the United States.

Translation prize to Angela Plöger

23 October 2014 | In the news

Angela Plöger, Frankfurt Book Fair, 8 October. Photo: Katja Maria Nyman

Angela Plöger, Frankfurt Book Fair, 8 October. Photo: Katja Maria Nyman

The 40th Finnish State Prize for the Translation of Finnish Literature of 2014 – worth €15,000 – was awarded to the German translator Angela Plöger at the Frankfurt Book Fair on 8 October.

Dr Angela Plöger (born 1942) studied Finnish and Fennistics in Berlin; she first came to Finland in the 1960s after having become interested in the Finnish language as a result of learning Hungarian.

‘I had been to the restaurant at the Helsinki Railway Station where Bertolt Brecht was thinking how the noblest part of a man is his passport, and how Finns are a people who keeps silent in two languages.’

Plöger then defected to West Germany, starting her career anew. She has also translated texts from Hungarian and Russian. In her speech in the Finnish Pavilion of the Book Fair Plöger said that in her opinion translating literature is the most fascinating profession in the world.

Her first translation of a Finnish novel was Tamara, by Eeva Kilpi, published in 1974. Among the most recent of the 40 novels Plöger has translated during the past five decades from Finnish are the novels Kätilö (‘Midwife’, 2011) by Katja Kettu and Kun kyyhkyset katosivat (‘When the doves disappeared’, 2012) by Sofi Oksanen. Among the other works Plöger has translated are novels by Leena Lander, Eeva-Kaarina Aronen, Anja Snellman, Kaari Utrio, Johanna Sinisalo, Risto Isomäki and Antti Tuuri, as well as a number of drama texts by Laura Ruohonen, Juha Jokela, Aki Kaurismäki, Pirkko Saisio and Sofi Oksanen.

The Minister for Culture and Housing, Pia Viitanen, thanked Plöger for her extensive and multi-faceted work in the field of language and literature and in promoting Finnish literary culture in Germany.

The prize, worth € 15,000, has been awarded by the Ministry of Education and Culture since 1975 on the basis of a recommendation by FILI – Finnish Literature Exchange.

Paris match

30 June 2011 | Articles, Non-fiction

In 1889 the author and journalist Juhani Aho (1861–1921) went to Paris on a Finnish government writing bursary. In the cafés and in his apartment near Montmartre he began a novella, Yksin (‘Alone’), the showpiece for his study year. Jyrki Nummi introduces this classic text and takes a look at the international career of a writer from the far north

Juhani Aho. Photo: SKS/Literary archives

Yksin is the tale of a fashionable, no-longer-young ‘decadent’, alienated from his bourgeois circle, and with his aesthetic stances and social duties in crisis. He flees from his disappointments and heartbreaks to Paris, the foremost metropolis at the end of the 19th century, where solitude could be experienced in the modern manner – among crowds of people. Yksin is the first portrayal of modern city life in the newly emerging Finnish prose, unique in its time.

Aho’s story has parallels in the contemporary European literature: Karl-Joris Huysmans’s A Rebours (1884), Knut Hamsun’s Hunger (1890) and Oscar Wilde’s The Portrait of Dorian Gray (1890). More…

Kaiken takana oli pelko. Kuinka Viro menetti historiansa ja kuinka se saadaan takaisin [Fear behind it all. How Estonia lost its history and how it will be recovered]

23 July 2009 | Mini reviews, Reviews

kaiken takana oli pelkoKaiken takana oli pelko. Kuinka Viro menetti historiansa ja kuinka se saadaan takaisin
[Fear behind it all. How Estonia lost its history and how to get it back]
Toim. [Ed. by] Sofi Oksanen & Imbi Paju
Helsinki: WSOY, 2009. 563 p., ill.
ISBN 978-951-0-35111-6
€ 29, hardback

Twentieth-century Estonian history was marked by a brief German occupation (1918) and a Soviet occupation lasting nearly half a century (1940–1991). This book contains more than 30 articles by Finnish, Estonian, Russian, British and American experts in the field, dealing with with subjects that include the propaganda of the Soviet occupation, the methods of political oppression, environmental pollution, corruption and the situation of the arts and culture during the occupation. There are also previously suppressed memoirs and reminiscences by survivors of the Gulag prison camps. Sofi Oksanen (born 1977) is a Finnish writer of Estonian heritage who was awarded the 2008 Finlandia Prize for Fiction for her novel Puhdistus (‘Purge’), which is based on Estonian history. Imbi Paju (born 1959) is an Estonian film director and writer. The book deals with the morality of a totalitarian state in general, and examines how different contries have approached the concept of human rights violations in recent times. It has given rise to much debate about Finland’s relations with neighbouring Estonia and its people.

On stage in New York

28 May 2010 | In the news

Sofi Oksanen. Photo:

Puhdistus (2007), a play by Sofi Oksanen that also became a award-winning novel (2008), will be produced at the prestigious La MaMa theatre in New York in February 2011 under the title Purge. The director is Zishan Ugurlu, La MaMa’s Artistic Director.

Next month, Purge will be read in Chicago where the conference of the Theatre Communication Group of American professional theatres takes place. In September the play – which is set in 20th-century Estonia – will also be prèmiered in Tartu, Estonia. The novel was published in Estonian translation last year. Purge was published in English this April by Grove/Atlantic, translated by Lola Rogers. So far translation rights have been sold to 28 countries.

The play has been translated into English by Eva Buchwald, dramaturge at the Finnish National Theatre, where Purge was first produced in 2007. No Finnish play has ever before been produced on a professional stage in the US.

Postcards from the lakeside

8 August 2010 | This 'n' that

A tower with a view: Olavinlinna (St Olaf's castle). Photo: Lola Rogers

Translator Lola Rogers (of, for example, Sofi Oksanen’s best-selling novel Purge), from Seattle, spent a few weeks in Finland, and went on a cruise on Lake Saimaa.

Olavinlinna (St Olaf’s castle), and the opera, in the city of Savonlinna, was one of her stops; take a look at her blog – you’ll perhaps recognise the the inventive 16th-century wall privies on the towers we wrote about a while ago.

There are quite a few photos from Helsinki, too – from this hot, hot (too hot?) summer.

What Finland read in April

14 May 2010 | In the news

In April Sofi Oksanen’s best-selling novel Puhdistus, Purge (winner of the Finlandia Prize for Fiction in 2008, WSOY, and now available in English translation) was top of the best-selling Finnish fiction list again. Quite an achievement.

Finns seem to be besotted with Pertti Jarla’s comic books: three of them, set in the weird city of Fingerpori (‘Fingerborg’, Arktinen Banaani), were on the list.

The final volume of artist and writer Hannu Väisänen’s fictionalised autobiography, Kuperat ja koverat (‘Convex and concave’, Otava, 2009), was number five on the list. Number three was a newcomer, Tumman veden päällä (‘On dark water’, Tammi), also an autobiographical novel about childhood, by the the actor Peter Franzén.

Names appearing high on the foreign fiction list in April included Child Lee, Dan Brown, Falcones Ildefonso, Liza Marklund, Pamuk Orhan and W.G. Sebald.

Our favourite things

29 January 2010 | Letter from the Editors

Every reader has his or her favourite book. It is possible to define, with acceptable criteria, when a work of fiction is ‘a good novel’: do the plot, characterisation and language work, does it have anything to say? But when is a ‘good’ novel better than another ‘good’ novel? More…

Funny stuff favoured

13 April 2011 | In the news

In March the Bookseller’s Association of Finland’s list of the best-selling Finnish fiction was topped – for a change – by a collection of poems. Like all her collections, Heli Laaksonen’s Peippo vei (‘The chaffinch took it’, Otava) is written in a local dialect spoken in south-western Finland.

Perttti Jarla’s latest comics book, Fingerpori 4 (‘Fingerborg 4’, Arktinen Banaani) was number two – and, demonstrating the Finns’ love of cartoons and comics, another of his titles, Fingerpori book, Fingerpori – Kamppailuni (‘Fingerborg – My fight’) occupied fourth place, following Sofi Oksanen’s Puhdistus (Purge), published in 2008 and still number three on the list. More…

What was Finland reading this summer?

2 September 2010 | In the news

Novels, thrillers and comics were on the June–July list of best-selling books according to the Booksellers’ Association of Finland.

And, as the popular poet, MP, novelist and television celebrity Tommy Tabermann (born 1947) died in June, his collected poems, Runot 1970–2010 became number one of the list.

Sofi Oksanen’s highly popular novel Puhdistus (Purge) has kept itself on the list for a long time, was now at number three. Tuomas Kyrö’s humorous novel about a man in his 80s, Mielensäpahoittaja (‘Taking offense’) was at number seven, Pertti Jarla’s Fingerpori 3 at number eight and Leena Lander’s new novel Liekin lapset (‘Children of the flames’) at number ten.

The top ten list of translated fiction included works by Jo Nesbø, Charlaine Harris, John Irving, Donna Leon and Dagsson Hugleikur.

During the summer there’s clearly enough time for nature observations: The Cloudspotter’s Guide by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, a work presenting  birds’ sounds and a book on bugs and creepy crawlies were among the ten best-selling non-fiction books.

What Finland read in November

17 December 2010 | In the news

Superheroes: Tatu and Patu by Aino Havukainen & Sami Toivonen

In November the latest thriller by Ilkka Remes, Shokkiaalto (‘Shock wave’, WSOY) topped the Booksellers’ Association of Finland’s list of the best-selling Finnish fiction. Sofi Oksanen’s prize-winning, much-translated 2008 novel Puhdistus (Purge, WSOY), has not left the best-selling list since it was awarded the Finlandia Prize for Fiction this autumn and was now number two.

Riikka Pulkkinen’s novel Totta (‘True’, Otava) was number three, and Tuomas Kyrö’s colllection of episodes from a grumpy old man’s life as told by himself, Mielensäpahoittaja (‘Taking offense’, WSOY), from last spring, occupied fourth place.

A new novel, Harjunpää ja rautahuone (‘Harjunpää and the iron room’, Otava), by the grand old man of Finnish crime, ex-policeman Matti Yrjänä Joensuu, was number five.

The most popular children’s book was a new picture book about two inventive and curious brothers, Tatu ja Patu supersankareina (‘Tatu and Patu as superheroes’, Otava) by Aino Havukainen and Sami Toivonen.

On the translated fiction list were books by, among others, Ildefonso Falcones, Jo Nesbø, Lee Child, Stephen King, Paulo Coelho and Paul Auster.

The non-fiction list included the traditional annual encyclopaedia Mitä missä milloin (‘What, where, when’, Otava, second place) as well as a political skit entitled Kuka mitä häh (‘Who what eh’, Otava) by Pekka Ervasti and Timo Haapala – the latter sold better, coming in at number one. In November the latest thriller by Ilkka Remes, Shokkiaalto (‘Shock wave’, WSOY) topped the Booksellers’ Association of Finland’s list of the best-selling Finnish fiction.