Search results for "leena krohn"

Once upon a time…

13 January 2012 | Articles, Non-fiction

Sari Airola's illustration in Silva och teservisen som fick fötter (‘Silva and the tea set that took to its feet’, Schildts) by Sanna Tahvanainen

The future of book publishing is not easy to predict. Books for children and young people are still produced in large quantities, and there’s no shortage of quality, either. But will the books find their readers? Päivi Heikkilä-Halttunen takes a look at the trends of 2011, while in the review section we’ve picked out a selection of last year’s best titles

The supply of titles for children and young adults is greater than ever, but the attention the Finnish print media pays to them continues to diminish. Writing about this genre appears increasingly ghettoised, featuring only in specialist publications or internet chat rooms and blogs.

Yet, defying the prospect of a recession, Suomen lastenkirjakauppa, a bookshop specialising in children’s literature, was re-established in central Helsinki in autumn 2011, following a ten-year break. Pro lastenkirjallisuus – Pro barnlitteraturen ry, the Finnish society for the promotion of children’s literature, has been making efforts to found a Helsinki centre dedicated to writing and illustration for children. The society made progress in this ambition when it organised a pilot event in May 2011. More…

Nationalism in war and peace

3 May 2012 | Reviews

House of words: the Finnish Literature Society building in Helsinki. Architect Sebastian Gripenberg, 1890. Watercolour by an unknown Russian artist, 1890s

Kai Häggman
Sanojen talossa. Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura 1890-luvulta talvisotaan
[In the house of words. The Finnish Literature Society from the 1890s to the Winter War]
Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, 2012. 582 p., ill.
ISBN 978-952-222-328-9
€54, hardback

The Finnish Literature Society has, throughout its history, played a multiplicity of roles: fiction publisher, research institute specialising in folklore studies, organiser of mass campaigns in support of national projects, literary gatekeeper, learned society, controller of language development.

The priorities of these areas of interest have changed from decade to decade, so Kai Häggman has taken on an exceptionally difficult subject to describe. He has, however, succeeded brilliantly in gathering the different threads together, using as as lowest common denominator the ideas of nationalism and nation whose role in global modernisation and European history have been studied, among others, by the British historians Ernest Gellner and Eric Hobsbawm. More…

Government prize for translation 2012

14 September 2012 | In the news

Vladimír Piskoř. Photo: Charlotta Boucht

The Finnish Government Prize for the Translation of Finnish Literature of 2012 – worth €15,000 – was awarded to the Czech translator Vladimír Piskoř.

Piskoř (born 1960), graduated from the Charles University of Prague in 1984, majoring in Finnish. Since the early 1990s he has translated almost 30 titles, most by contemporary authors, including Kristina Carlson, Kari Hotakainen, Leena Krohn, Rosa Liksom, Asko Sahlberg, Juha Seppälä, Petri Tamminen and Maria Peura.

‘I personally am fond of the novels by Kari Hotakainen: I sometimes play with the idea of becoming a writer myself, and I find his style and themes particularly interesting. Kristina Carlson’s latest novel Herra Darwinin puutarhuri (‘Mr Darwin’s gardener’, 2010) is a truly inspiring work both as a reader and a translator,’ he says.

Piskoř is currently working on Kari Hotakainen’s novel Jumalan sana (‘The word of God’) and Leena Lander’s historical novel Käsky (‘Command’). In 2006 he was awarded the Czech translators’ special prize for the novel Höyhen (‘Feather’) by Asko Sahlberg.

Vladimír Piskoř received his award in Helsinki on 10 September from State Secretary Jarmo Lindén; he thanked Piskoř for the work he has done for the last twenty years, particularly in the field of contemporary Finnish fiction.

The prize has been awarded – now for the 38th time – by the Ministry of Education and Culture since 1975 on the basis of a recommendation by FILI – Finnish Literature Exchange.

Leena Lander: Liekin lapset [Children of the flames]

23 June 2010 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Liekin lapset
[Children of the flames]
Helsinki: Siltala, 2010. 419 p.
ISBN 978-952-231-022-1
€ 27.30, hardback

Novels by Leena Lander (born 1959) have been translated into more than 20 languages. Liekin lapset is a family saga, told in two parallel timelines. One is a portrait of a small coastal community in south-western Finland from the turn of the 20th century up to the end of the Finnish civil war in 1918 and the years following it. Life in the area is governed by a sawmill and a manor, socially dividing the community in two. Saida, Joel, Anders and Arvi grow up together, the future workers dreaming of socialism and the sons of the manor playing warlords. In the contemporary strand of the story, Sakari Salin, Saida’s grandson, begins researching his grandmother’s life. The documents reveal some rather remarkable events: here, the author defends the rights of those who were on the losing side in the civil war and creates a lively – as well as historically grounded – portrait of the times. The dialogues and characters in this novel work well, and the structure supports a complex system of psychosocial interconnections, in which the present finds an explanation in the past.

Leena Parkkinen: Galtbystä länteen [West from Galtby]

19 December 2013 | Mini reviews, Reviews

parkkinen2.inddGaltbystä länteen
[West from Galtby]
Helsinki: Teos, 2013. 339 p.
ISBN 978-951-851-510-7
€32.90, hardback

Leena Parkkinen’s first novel, Sinun jälkeesi, Max (‘After you, Max’) was awarded the Helsingin Sanomat literature prize for best first work of 2009. Her new novel contains crime story ingredients, but the focus is on love between siblings, loss and the demand for truth. The story begins in 1947, after the war, on an island in the south-western Finnish archipelago. Sebastian, brother of Karen, has returned from the front; it’s time to mend the best clothes and dancing shoes. But to the horror of the island community, the body of a young girl is found on the shore, and Sebastian gets the blame. Sixty-five years later her brother’s fate has not left Karen alone, and she sets out to find the truth. Capable of handling different times, Parkkinen (born 1979) is also a skilful interpreter of conflicting sentiments, as unexpected twists develop towards the end.

Leena Liukkonen: Aatos

12 March 2015 | Mini reviews, Reviews

LiukkonenAatos
Helsinki: Siltala, 2014. 155 pp.
ISBN 978-952-234-225-6
€28.50, hardback

Aatos Erkko (1932–2012) was a prominent newspaper publisher and principal owner of the Sanoma group; the company’s largest and most prestigious paper is Helsingin Sanomat. Reticent by nature and possessed of a difficult personality, Erkko nonetheless tried to act in accordance with his ideals. Rarely seen in the public eye, during his lifetime he was considered one of Finland’s most influential forces behind the scenes. Even though he was not keen on taking over the reins of the paper from his father Eljas (son of the original founder) whose wish it was, Aatos Erkko took the role seriously, developing Helsingin Sanomat into the Nordic region’s largest newspaper. Journalist and writer Leena Liukkonen’s small-scale, warm-hearted portrait is based mostly on Erkko’s later years, making use of discussions and correspondence, as well as interviews recorded by a Swedish colleague. Known as Finland’s richest man, Erkko talks frankly about his difficult relationship with his parents, and the disappointments of his life. The book leaves the impression of a friendship portrayed in terms that are open and honest.

Translated by David McDuff

Marja-Leena Tiainen: Kahden maailman tyttö [The girl from two worlds]

18 January 2012 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Kahden maailman tyttö
[The girl from two worlds]
Helsinki: Tammi, 2011. 261 p.
ISBN 978-951-31-5937-5
€ 26.65, hardback

Marja-Leena Tiainen (born 1951) has dealt with unemployment, immigration, and racism in her works, in ways that are accessible to her young readership. She researches her topics with care. The idea for this book dates back to 2004, when the author made the acquaintance of a Muslim girl who lived in a reception centre in eastern Finland; her experiences fed into Tara’s story. Tiainen’s central theme, ‘honour’ violence in the Muslim community, is surprisingly similar to Jari Tervo’s  Layla (WSOY, 2011). Tiainen’s is a traditional story about a girl growing up and surviving, but the novel’s strong points are the authentic description of everyday multiculturalism, and the intensity of the narration. The reader identifies with Tara’s balancing act, which she must carry out in the crossfire of her father’s authority, family tradition, and her own dreams. In spite of everything, the community also becomes a source of security and support for Tara. The narrative arc is coherent and, despite the numerous overlapping time-frames, the tension is sustained right up to the final, conciliatory solution.
Translated by Fleur Jeremiah and Emily Jeremiah

Anna-Leena Siikala: Itämerensuomalaisten mytologia [Baltic Finnic mythology]

12 April 2013 | Mini reviews, Reviews

mytologiaItämerensuomalaisten mytologia
[Baltic Finnic mythology]
Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society, 2013. 536 p., ill.
ISBN 978-952-222-393-7
€ 45, hardback

Academician and Professor Emeritus of Folklore Anna-Leena Siikala presents a overview of her research. The book also makes use of the latest research in other fields in order to chart Baltic Finnic folk poetry, shamanism and folk beliefs. The Kalevala, Elias Lönnrot’s epic poem based on Finnish folklore, forms only a part of the poetry written in Kalevala metre. Although the poem is often perceived to be Finno-Karelian in origin, around half of its material is also known in Estonia: many of the poems and myths have links to Uralic and Germanic tradition. By means of numerous examples Siikala illustrates the different styles of folk poetry, its manifestations of vernacular religion and its rich mythology. In Finland the poems became modified over the centuries, influenced by the Christian faith, among other things. In different areas the figure of the divine hero Väinämöinen has acquired different emphases: it is less a question of mythology than of mythologies. The book’s illustrations are rich and informative, and the work is a unique treasure trove in its field.
Translated by David McDuff

Marja-Leena Mikkola: Helmenkantaja [The pearl bearer]

19 February 2015 | Mini reviews, Reviews

mikkolaHelmenkantaja
[The pearl bearer]
Helsinki: Otava, 2014.125 pp.
ISBN 978-951-1-28182-5
€23.90, hardback

Marja-Leena Mikkola (born 193x) has had a long career as a poet and translator. She has also written books for children and young adults, and Helmenkantaja shows her thorough familiarity with Anglo-Saxon fantasy fiction. Charles Kingsley’s Water Babies as well as H.C. Andersen’s little mermaid seem to glimmer in the background of this story. True to Mikkola’s ethos, the novel has a dose of ecocriticism in its theme of protection of a threatened pearl oyster. Reetta is fed up with looking out for her younger siblings at the family’s summer cabin; it feels as if the summer is slipping away. This everyday tale gradually breaks off into an exciting adventure in an underwater kingdom. The water boy, heir to the queen of the water, has to be rescued from the clutches of the water wizard. This difficult task requires a daredevil like Reetta, who, in additon to many other important qualities, has the gift of storytelling.

Translated by Lola Rogers

Forest and fell

8 May 2013 | Reviews

From North to South: young Heikki Soriola dressed in Lapp clothes, on his way to represent Utsjoki in Helsinki, in 1912. Photo from Saamelaiset suomalaiset

From North to South: young Heikki Soriola on his way to represent Utsjoki in Helsinki, in 1912. Photo from Saamelaiset suomalaiset

Veli-Pekka Lehtola
Saamelaiset suomalaiset: Kohtaamisia 1896–1953
[Sámi, Finns: encounters 1896–1953]
Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, 2012. 528 p., ill.
ISBN 978-952-222-331-9
€53, hardback
Leena Valkeapää
Luonnossa: Vuoropuhelua Nils-Aslak Valkeapään tuotannon kanssa
[In nature, a dialogue with the works of Nils-Aslak Valkeapää]
Helsinki: Maahenki, 2011. 288 p., ill.
ISBN 978-952-5870-54-1
€40, hardback

The study of the Sámi people, like that of other indigenous peoples, has become considerably more diverse and deeper over recent decades. Where non-Sámi scholars, officials and clergymen once examined the Sámi according to the needs and values of the holders of power, contemporary scholarship starts out from dialogue, from an attempt to understand the interactions between different groups. More…

Marja-Leena Lempinen: Punainen lumme [The red lily]

3 March 2009 | Mini reviews

Punainen lummePunainen lumme
[The red lily]
[Helsinki: WSOY, 2008. 232 p.
ISBN 978-951-0-34434-7
€ 21, hardback

16-year-old Ella’s story is told with gusto and vitality. The novel deals critically, in a way that will appeal to young readers, with questions of Internet etiquette, personal protection and the right to one’s own body. Lempinen depicts the sexual exploitation of a young girl in realistic terms, but does not over-dramatise it. Ella, however, needs to regain her mental equilibrium in a psychiatric hospital, with the help of the understanding staff. The gift of a red lily she receives from friends develops into a beautiful symbol of her gradual attainment of her sexual identity. As in her earlier novels for teens, Lempinen (born 1950) gives an important role to the experience of nature, and this is a leading factor in Ella’s recovery.

Poet of the senses

30 June 1988 | Archives online, Authors

The midwinter Finlandia contest is followed in Finland with almost as much excitement as the Booker Prize in Britain. The fourth Finlandia Prize – 100,000 Finnmarks – was awarded in January to the poet and prose-writer Helvi Hämäläinen, 80, for her collection of poetry Sukupolveni unta (‘Dreams of my generation’, WSOY).

Hämäläinen was tipped as favourite among the ten contenders. All the same, the award was a pleasant surprise, for the author had not published a word for twenty years. To the new generation it was as if she were making her debut.

Hämäläinen’s comeback, in other words, was brilliant. More…

Weird and proud of it

5 September 2011 | Authors, Essays, Non-fiction, On writing and not writing

In this series Finnish authors ponder their profession. Johanna Sinisalo, detests literary pigeonholes: in her opinion, the genre isn’t the point, the story is. Instead of having her books labelled ‘fantasy’ or ‘science fiction’, she would like to coin a new term: Finnish weird

I’ve got a problem, and it’s a problem I share with my agent, my publisher, book retailers and librarians.

Nobody really knows which literary pigeonhole my works belong to. Almost without exception my stories include some element that is mystical, magical or otherwise at odds with our everyday reality, or they might be set in the future.

‘Doesn’t that make it fantasy?’ some might ask. ‘Or science fiction?’

Seasoned readers will of course appreciate that both ‘fantasy’ and ‘science fiction’ are very broad concepts that can encompass a whole variety of different texts. Even so, I still don’t want my works to be bunched into either of these categories. Why not? More…

The Finlandia Prize for Fiction 2013

5 December 2013 | In the news

Rikka Pelo. Photo: Heini Lehväslaiho

Riikka Pelo. Photo: Heini Lehväslaiho

The director general of the Helsinki City Theatre, Asko Sarkola, announced the winner of the 30th Finlandia Literature Prize for Fiction, chosen from a shortlist of six novels, on 2 December in Helsinki. The prize, worth €30,000, was awarded to Riikka Pelo for her novel Jokapäiväinen elämämme (‘Our everyday life’, Teos).

In his award speech Sarkola – and actor by training – characterised the six novels as ‘six different roles’:

‘They are united by a bold and deep understanding of individuality and humanity against the surrounding period. They are the perspectives of fictive individuals, new interpretations of the reality we imagine or suppose. Viewfinders on the present, warnings of the future.

‘Riikka Pelo‘s Jokapäiväinen elämämme is wound around two periods and places, Czechoslovakia in 1923 and the Soviet Union in 1939–41. The central characters are the poet Marina Tsvetaeva and her daughter Alya. This novel has the widest scope: from stream of consciousness to interrogations in torture chambers and the labour camps of Vorkuta; always moving, heart-stopping, irrespective of the settings.’

The five other novels were Ystäväni Rasputin (’My friend Rasputin’) by JP Koskinen, Hotel Sapiens (Teos) by Leena Krohn, Terminaali (‘The terminal’, Siltala) by Hannu Raittila, Herodes (‘Herod’, WSOY) by Asko Sahlberg and Hägring 38 (‘Mirage 38’, Schildts & Söderströms; Finnish translation, Kangastus, Otava) by Kjell Westö (see In the news for brief features).

Into the animal kingdom

31 December 2000 | Archives online, Authors, Interviews, Reviews

In her first novel, Ennen päivänlaskua ei voi (‘Not before sundown’, Tammi, 2000), Johanna Sinisalo has developed a new science, that of trollology, discovering in the northern forests a new mammal species, the troll. The novel takes its readers into a world beyond taboo. where human beings may fall in love with non-human creatures – and mortal danger may ensue. Introduction and interview by Soila Lehtonen

There are still wild beasts in the forests of northern Europe. It is still not far from the cities to the forest -and the forest is no manicured parkland. where the mark of man is everywhere visible. A berry-picker may encounter a bear, a schoolchild see wolf-tracks in the snow. But the territory of wild creatures in shrinking, and it is becoming more difficult for them to find food; and so they are making inroads into the human landscape. There are a thousand bears in Finland, one for every five thousand people; more than one hundred licences to shoot bear were granted this autumn. More…