Search results for "sari mikkonen"

Nine lives

30 September 1994 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Entire lives flash by in half a page in this selection of very short short stories. Extracts from Elämiä (‘Lives’, Otava, 1994)


Silja was born in 1900. The home farm had been sub-divided many times. Silja threw a piece of bread on the floor. ‘Don’t sling God’s corn,’ said grandmother. Silja got up to go to school at four. In the cart, her head nodded; when the horse was going downhill its shoes struck sparks in the darkness. Silja’s brother drove to another province to go courting. Silja sat in the side-car. ‘The birches were in full leaf there,’ she said at home. Silja went to Helsinki University to read Swedish. She saw the famous Adolf Lindfors playing a miser on the big stage at the National Theatre. Silja got a senior teaching post at the high school. With a colleague, she travelled in Gotland. Silja donated her television set to the museum. It was one of the first Philips models. ‘Has this been watched at all?’ they asked Silja. Silja learned to drive after she retired. She called her car ‘The Knight’. The teachers’ society made a theatre trip to Tampere. Silja looked up her colleague in the telephone directory in the interval. There was no one of that name. More…

New lives

30 June 2001 | Archives online, Authors, Reviews

‘Memory is no keepsafe! What is remembered changes and moves all the time. Only that which we wish to forget remains unchanged. It is preserved as if frozen, in a state of readiness…. And sometimes, unexpectedly, it begins to melt.’

The characters in the fourth collection of short stories by Sari Malkamäki (born 1962) und themselves in situations in which the death of a close friend or relative, the birth of a child or separation bring about change: they decide to act in an unexpected way, or differently from before, and in any case driven by their own will.

Some frozen memory may change the situation; a father, for example, may tell his grown-up daughter that she is her dead mother’s love-child. Half by accident, the past shows itself in a completely new light.

Malkamäki does not examine her characters cynically; she does not know better than them, but gives them their own voices and their own solutions. The stories arise from contemporary people’s ordinary lives, but the simultaneously spacious and taut narrative surprises. These people are completely credible, but the events the writer constructs for them are nevertheless unexpected: in Malkamäki’s case, the short story works.

Malkamäki encourages her readers to taste her choices of words and phrases. Her sentences are economical; there is nothing excessive or impressionistic about them. Under the considered surface of her language, important decisions, sorrows and human joys take shape. Her characters have the courage and the persistence to begin from the beginning, to start a ‘new life’ even if it does not mean anything grandiose or revolutionary, but just the continuing of everyday life in the light of some new realisation.

In the short story ‘Viimeinen kierros’ (‘The last lap’), a divorced couple’s little boy often wets his bed, under which there lives a bear. But the boy is tough, tougher than his hero, the formula driver Mika Häkkinen – and perhaps, even, tougher than the bear.

Sodan kasvattamat [Brought up by war]

6 May 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Sodan kasvattamat
[Brought up by war]
Toimittaneet [Ed. by]: Sari Näre, Jenni Kirves and Juha Siltala
Helsinki: WSOY, 2010. 464 p., ill.
ISBN 978-951-0-36733-9
€ 34, hardback

This volume is a collection of personal historical accounts relating to child-rearing and youth during the Finnish Winter and Continuation Wars (1939–1944). In the war years, 60,000 children were orphaned and nearly 80,000 were evacuated abroad, mainly to Sweden; in relative terms, this was a greater proportion of the nation’s children than were similarly affected anywhere else in the world. Some 150,000 children lost their homes in bombing raids or in the Finnish evacuation from the region of Karelia. Finland’s agrarian society taught these children to be obedient and to get by without assistance from adults. The Finnish civil war of 1918 had its effects as well: people did not talk much about their emotions. In circumstances where disciplined sacrifice was emphasised, young people found solace in games, sport and working. Researcher Ville Kivimäki speculates that the widespread experience of an unprotected childhood may have led, at least in part, to Finland’s establishing a social welfare state after the Second World War, as a kind of compensation. The material draws on earlier research, archived personal accounts and memoirs as well as numerous new in-depth interviews.
Translated by Ruth Urbom

Luvattu maa. Suur-Suomen unelma ja unohdus [The promised land. The dream of Greater Finland, and how it was forgotten]

26 September 2014 | Mini reviews, Reviews

luvattumaaLuvattu maa. Suur-Suomen unelma ja unohdus
[The promised land. The dream of Greater Finland, and how it was forgotten]
Toim. [Ed. by] Sari Näre & Jenni Kirves
Helsinki: Johnny Kniga, 2014. 407 p.
ISBN 978-951-0-40295-5
€36.90, hardback

In the 1920s and 1930s Finland was powerfully influenced by the idea of a ​​Greater Finland which was also to include the Finno-Ugric peoples living on the Soviet side of the border – at least East Karelia, if not more. Right-wing nationalists in particular nourished a vision that had its roots in the idealistic ‘Karelianism’ of the nineteenth century. When during the Second World War in 1941 Finland ended up fighting the Soviet Union as an ally of Nazi Germany, and the Finnish army advanced far beyond the eastern border, for a short time many Finns even viewed a Greater Finland as a possibility. After Finland suffered defeat in the war there was a desire to forget both the embarrassing alliance with Nazi Germany and the frenzied nationalistic dreams of Greater Finland with their population resettlements and other plans. Not until the 1970s did anyone begin to study the subject in more depth. Five historians from a younger generation present a fascinating study of the Greater Finland idea and the attempts at its realisation, discussing, for example, the attitude to the war taken by women and the clergy, life at the front line, and propaganda, including its expression in literature.

Translated by David McDuff

On the road, in the world

21 March 2013 | Reviews

In Romani dress: the photo (by Topi Ikäläinen) is from 1983, and Finnish Romani women still wear their velvet skirts (which weigh 5-8 kilos)

In Romani dress: Finnish Romani women still wear their traditional velvet skirts (which weigh 5-8 kilos). Photo: Topi Ikäläinen, 1983

Suomen romanien historia
[A history of Finland’s Romani people]
Toimittanut [Edited by] Panu Pulma
Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura (the Finnish Literature Society), 494 p., ill.
ISBN 978-952-222-364-7
€57, hardback

The Romani people set out from India around a thousand years ago; there are those who even claim that they originated in Egypt long before that. This latter account was favoured among the Romani in Europe, and so their leaders took to styling themselves the Dukes of ‘Egypt Minor’ or ‘Little Egypt’.

The Romani of Europe are generally considered to have come from northern India in the 15th century. They arrived in Finland – which at that time was part of Sweden – in 1512.

Five hundred years later, it seems a fitting time to publish Suomen romanien historia, a volume edited by Panu Pulma, PhD, a university lecturer in Finnish and Nordic history, with chapters contributed by a total of 14 additional experts.

The Romani who reached Stockholm, also in 1512, were said to be from ‘Egypt Minor’. This purported connection with Egypt is the origin behind the English word gypsy. The Swedish word zigenare (related to the German Zigeuner) did not come into use until the 17th century. More…

Funny stuff

1 April 2009 | In the news

The hedgehog that swears by Milla Paloniemi.

Milla Paloniemi's swearing hedgehog

For the first time, comic books rule the latest bestsellers list of Finnish fiction.

A cartoon series called Fingerpori by Pertti Jarla evidently tickles the Finnish funny bone, as three of his collections occupy the second, sixth and eighth places on the February top ten list, compiled by the Booksellers’ Association of Finland. More…

Future, fantasy and everyday life: books for young readers

24 January 2013 | Articles, Children's books, Non-fiction

A giant meets the bunnies: a new story by Esko-Pekka Tiitinen, illustrated by Nikolai Tiitinen

Fantasy novels and dystopias feature in the new Finnish fiction for young readers; popular children’s books are recycled – stories and illustrations are adapted to new media and for new age groups. Päivi Heikkilä-Halttunen takes a look at new books for young readers published in 2012

All new mothers in Finland receive a ‘maternity package’ from the state containing items for the baby (including bedding, clothing and various childcare products) intended to give each baby a good start in life. This tradition, which started in 1938, is believed to be the only such programme in the world.

Each package also contains the baby’s first book, traditionally a sturdy board book by a Finnish author. The past few years have seen more original board books published in Finland than ever before: they are doing well in competition alongside books translated from other languages. Board books for babies have become a focus for Finnish illustrators and graphic artists. These books, with their simple visual language, have taken on a retro look.

History was made with the Finlandia Junior award, when for the first time the prestigious prize was given to a picture book originally written in Finland-Swedish: Det vindunderliga ägget (‘A most extraordinary egg’, Schildts & Söderströms) by Christel Rönns. The award can also be seen as an acknowledgement of the brave, experimental Finland-Swedish children’s picture books that are being published these days. Finnish-language picture books, on the other hand, are still crying out for more figures to shake up traditional practices. More…

Ruma sota [The ugly war]

11 May 2009 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Ruma sotaRuma sota. Talvi- ja jatkosodan vaiettu historia
[The ugly war. The suppressed history of the Winter and Continuation Wars ]
Toim. [Ed. by] Näre, Sari & Kirves, Jenni
Helsinki: Johnny Kniga, 2008. 468 p., ill.
ISBN 978-951-0-32917-7
€ 39, hardback

The book is about the conflicts associated with the interpretation of the Finnish Winter and Continuation Wars (1939–1944) and the culture of silence which followed them. It argues that the psychological impact of those wars, which shifted from one generation to the next, caused suffering, and that those who had traumatic experiences were left largely alone with their distress. The articles examine children’s experiences of war, the experiences of cowards and deserters, the effects of war on sexual behaviour and drug use, and the impact of propaganda on people’s minds. There is a startling essay on violence at the front line based on the writings of veterans, with photographic archival material. The book also discusses the views of Finnish writers who served in the wars, and the violations of human rights encountered by prisoners of war.

Who for? On new books for children and young people

29 January 2010 | Articles, Non-fiction

Secrets: an illustration by Aino-Maija Metsola from Minä ja Muro (‘Me and Muro) by Mari Kujanpää

Books have a tough time in their struggle for the souls of the young: more titles for children and young adults than ever before are published in Finland, all of them trying to find their readers. Päivi Heikkilä-Halttunen picks out some of the best and most innovative reading from among last year’s titles

Nine-year-old Lauha’s only friend and confidant is her teddy bear Muro, because Lauha is an outsider both at home and at school. The children’s novel Minä ja Muro (‘Muro and me’, Otava), which won the 2009 Finlandia Junior Prize, provoked discussion of whether it was appropriate for children, with its oppressive mood and the lack of any bright side brought into the life of the main character in its resolution. More…