Search results for "olli jalonen"

Hotel for the living

30 June 1984 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

An extract from Hotelli eläville (‘Hotel for the living’, 1983). Introduction by Markku Huotari

Raisa and Pertti are a married couple with three children, Katrieli­na, Aripertti and Artomikko. When she discovers she is to have another, whom she names Katjaraisa, Raisa decides to have an abortion, because another child, even if welcome, would now jeopardise her career – she has been offered a job with an international company at the very top of the advertising world. Raisa is the successful entrepreneur of the novel – on the one hand coldly calculating, without feeling, on the other superficially sentimental, perhaps the most startlingly ironic of the characters in Jalonen’s novel. His image of the brave new woman?

During her lunch hour Raisa took a walk via the laboratory, asked reception for the envelope and thrust it unregarded into her handbag. She was aware of her already knowing, but short of the envelope, there would as yet be no restrictions, nor were there any decisions that would have to be made. She had called Tom Eriksson, discussed yet again the same points and particulars, and ended tracing a finger over the two beautiful pictures on her wall. ‘The loveliest of seas has yet to be sailed’ and ‘I am life! For Life’s sake.’

She thought of Katjaraisa, her features, the palms the breadth of two fingers, just as Katrielina’s had been, and the same button-eyed gazing look as Katrielina. More…

Growing together. New Finnish children’s books

28 January 2011 | Articles

Hulda knows what she wants! From the cover of a new picture book by Markus Majaluoma (see mini reviews*)

What to choose? A mum or dad buys a book hoping it will be an enjoyable read at bedtime – adults presume a book is a ‘good’ one if they themselves genuinely enjoy it, but children’s opinions may differ. Päivi Heikkilä-Halttunen reviews the trends in children’s literature published in Finland in 2010, and in the review section we’ve picked out a handful of the best on offer

Judging by the sheer number and variety of titles published, Finnish children’s and young people’s fiction is alive and well. If I had to describe the selection of books published in 2010 in just a few words, I would have to point to the abundance of titles and subject matters, and the awareness of international trends.

Since 2000 the number of books for children and young people published in Finland each year – including both translated and Finnish titles – has been well in excess of 1,500, and increasing, and this growth shows no signs of slowing down.

Little boys, ten-year-olds who don’t read very much and teenage boys, however, were paid very little attention last year. Although gender-specificity has never been a requirement of children’s fiction, boys are notably pickier when it comes to long, wordy books, especially those that might be considered ‘girly’. More…

Round and round

2 December 2011 | Essays, Non-fiction

In this essay, Olli Löytty imagines himself in a revolving door that is able to spin his old family home and its inhabitants backwards in time – as far as prehistory. In addition to his own family’s past, Löytty zooms back into the history of the world’s great changes, for a moment playing the part of a cosmic god examining our globe

An essay from Kulttuurin sekakäyttäjät (‘Culture-users’, Teos, 2011)

If a film camera had stood outside my home from the time when it was built, I would rewind the movie it made from the end to the beginning. The story would begin with my children, one autumn morning in 2011, walking backwards home from school. The speed of the rewind would be so fast that they would quickly grow smaller; I, too, would get thinner and start smoking. I would curiously seek out the point where my wife and I are seen together for the last time, stepping out of the front door, back first, and setting out on our own paths, to live our own separate young lives.

At that time my grandmother still lives in the house with her two daughters and their husbands, and lodgers upstairs. The next time I would slow the rewind would be the point where, at the age of 18, finally move out of the house. The freeze-frame reveals a strange figure: almost like me, but not quite. In the face of the lanky youth I seek my own children’s features.

When I let the film continue its backwards story, I seek glimpses of myself as a child. Even though we lived in distant Savo [in eastern Finland], we went to see my grandmother in the city of Tampere relatively often. We called her our Pispala grandmother, although her house was located to the west of the suburb limit, in Hyhky. I follow the arrival of my grown-up cousins, their transformation into children, the juvenation of my grandmother and her daughters, the changing lodgers. At some point the film becomes black-and-white. More…

Best-selling books in September

15 October 2010 | In the news

In September, Finns read crime novels. Matti Yrjänä Joensuu’s latest book featuring his police protagonist Timo Harjunpää, Harjunpää ja rautahuone (‘Harjunpää and the iron room’, Otava), topped the Booksellers’ Association of Finland’s best-seller list.

Joensuu’s Harjunpää ja pahan pappi was published in English in 2006 and reissued in 2008 under the title Priest of Evil. A film adaptation will be released in Finland in late October, directed by Olli Saarela and starring Peter Franzén in the title role.

Number two was the latest thriller from the pseudonymous Ilkka Remes,  Shokkiaalto (‘Shock wave’, WSOY), and number three was Leena Lehtolainen’s Minne tytöt kadonneet (‘Where have all the young girls gone’, Tammi).

Sofi Oksanen’s record-breaking seller and critical success Puhdistus (WSOY; English edition: Purge, Atlantic Books) held strong in fourth place.

In translated fiction, Paul Auster, Diana Gabaldon ja Paulo Coelho headed the list.

The non-fiction list was topped by a study of sociability and social skills by Liisa Keltikangas-Järvinen (Sosiaalisuus ja sosiaaliset taidot, WSOY). Readers seem to be interested in survival, as the number two book was in a similar vein, Lilli Loiri-Seppä’s Selviämistarinoita (‘Stories of coping’ – also translatable as ‘Stories about getting sober’, Gummerus), about how to stop drinking.

Walt Disney was missing again from the top of the children’s list, the number one and number two spots being taken by Finnish picture books, Tatu ja Patu supersankareina (‘Tatu and Patu as superheroes’, Otava) by Aino Havukainen and Sami Toivonen, and Hurja-Harri ja pullon henki (‘Scary Harry and the genie in the bottle’, Otava) by the veteran graphic artist and children’s book author Mauri Kunnas. A new installment of the Ella storybook series by Timo Parvela, Ella ja Yön ritarit (‘Ella and the Knights of the Night’, Tammi) held the number three spot. In September, Finns read crime novels. Matti Yrjänä Joensuu’s latest book featuring his police protagonist Timo Harjunpää, Harjunpää ja rautahuone (‘Harjunpää and the iron room’, Otava), topped the Booksellers’ Association of Finland’s best-seller list.

Make or break?

17 November 2011 | This 'n' that

Two tax collectors: anonymous painter, after Marinus van Reymerswaele (ca. 1575–1600). Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nancy. Wikimedia

In Finland, tax returns are public information. So, every November the media publish lists of the top earners in Finland, dividing them into the categories of earned and investment income. Every November it is revealed who are millionaires and who are just plain rich.

The Taloussanomat (‘The economic news’) newspaper offers a list (Finnish only) of the 5,000 people who earned most last year (in terms of both earned and investment income, together with the proportion of income they have paid in tax). You can also search lists of various status and professions: rock/pop stars, media, sports, MPs, celebrities, politicians of various political parties…

So let’s take a look at Taloussanomat’s selected list of authors:  number one is the celebrity author Jari Tervo (309,971 euros, tax percentage 45); number two, the internationally famous Sofi Oksanen (302,634 euros, 46 per cent); the next two are Sinikka Nopola, writer of children’s books, (264,000) and Arto Paasilinna (262,300; now after an illness, retired as a writer), translated into more than 30 languages since the 1970s. (The film critic and author Peter von Bagh made almost 900,000 euros – not by writing books, but by selling his share of a music company to an international enterprise.)

As tax data are public in Finland, there’s vigorous and decidedly informed public debate on how much money, for example, directors of public pension institutions and government offices or ministers and other top politicians are paid, and how much they should be paid: what is equitable, what is reasonable? A million dollar question indeed…

Among the European Union countries, it is only in Finland, Sweden and Denmark that there is no universal minimum wage. Here, wages are determined in trade wage negotiations. The average monthly salary in the private sector in 2010 was approximately 3,200 euros. In contrast to that, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, the Nokia CEO and President, who tops the 2010 tax list, earned a salary of 8 million last year, because – and precisely because – he was sacked (and replaced by the Irishman Steven Elop).

The CIA’s Gini index measures the degree of inequality in the distribution of family income in a country. The more unequal a country’s income distribution, the higher is its Gini index. The country with the highest number is Sweden, 23; the lowest, South Africa, 65 (data from both, 2005). Finland’s figure is 26.8 (2008), Germany 27 (2006), the European Union’s 34. The United Kingdom stands at 34 (2005), and the USA at 45 (2007). The figure in Finland seems to be on the rise though, as the figure back in 1991 was 25.6.

There’s been plenty of research and debate on economic inequality and the ways it harms societies. This link takes you to a fascinating video lecture (July 2011 – now seen by almost half a million people) by Richard Wilkinson, British author, Profefssor Emeritus of social epidemiology.

Cautionary tales

30 September 2002 | Fiction, Prose

Short stories from Förklädnader. Sagor, parabler (‘Disguises. Stories, allegories’, Schildts, 2001; Valepukuja. Satuja, vertauksia, WSOY, 2002)


All over Hellas, even in the barbarian lands, the lyre-players competed with one another. Odes, paeans, dithyrambs echoed endlessly. Phoebus Apollo himself generously oversaw these productions.

A certain promising singer, Deinarchos by name, who hoped to participate in the upcoming Pythian contest, sat in his study-cave in the mountains of Thessaly waiting for inspiration. He prayed repeatedly to Phoebus for help, but did not detect any response. More…

Anu-Hanna Anttila & al.: Kuriton kansa [Unruly nation]

13 August 2010 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Anu-Hanna Anttila & Ralf Kauranen & Olli Löytty & Pollari Mikko Rantanen Pekka & Petri Ruuska
Kuriton kansa. Poliittinen mielikuvitus vuoden 1905 suurlakon ajan Suomessa

[Unruly nation. The political imagination of the 1905 general strike in Finland]
Tampere: Vastapaino, 2009. 317 p., ill.
ISBN 978-951-768-246-6
€ 33, paperback

In the beginning of the 20th century the Grand Duchy of Finland, a part of the Russian Empire, entered a period of crisis and began to turn into a nation with its own institutions. Universal and equal suffrage increased tenfold the number of those eligible to vote. A move to the granting of political rights was demanded during the 1905 general strike, which was both an internal political power struggle and a  demonstration by Finns against the Russification measures being imposed by their rulers. The book examines the ideological currents of the strike period and investigates their definitions of ‘nation’ and ‘nationality’, with reference to literary research, historical sociology, cultural studies and women’s studies, making extensive use of contemporary documents. The book’s essays portray the spectrum of ideas, reflected in groups like the theosophists, Tolstoyans and anarchists.

The 2013 European Union Prizes for Literature

3 October 2013 | In the news

Katri Lipson. Photo: Olli Turunen

Katri Lipson. Photo: Olli Turunen

The second novel Jäätelökauppias (‘The ice-cream vendor’, Tammi, 2012) by Katri Lipson won her one of the 12 European Union Prizes for Literature this year, announced at the Gothenburg Book Fair, Sweden, on 26 September.

Each winner will receive € 5,000, and the priority to apply for European Union funding to have their book translated into other European languages.

The European Commission, the European Booksellers’ Federation (EBF), the European Writers’ Council (EWC) and the Federation of European Publishers (FEP) are the organisers of the prize which is supported through the European Union’s culture programme. The competition is open to authors in the 37 countries involved in the Culture Programme.

The prize aims to draw attention to new talents and to promote the publication of their books in different countries, as well as celebrating European cultural diversity.

The previous Finnish winner of the prize was Riku Korhonen in 2010.

Utopia or dystopia?

15 October 2013 | This 'n' that

CMI logo rgb jpeg‘The fate of our societies lies in equity’, claims Martti Ahtisaari – winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008 – in his foreword to a study entitled A recipe for a better life: Experiences from the Nordic countries (2013).

The study was compiled and written by Heikki Hiilamo and Olli Kangas with Johan Fritzell, Jon Kvist and Joakim Palme and published by Crisis Management Initiative (a Finnish, independent, non-profit organisation founded in 2000 by Ahtisaari, President of Finland from 1994 to 2000). It is available here.

‘The Nordic experience’ is presented in chapters dealing with the trustworthiness of the society, the role of the state, the amount of efficiency and inefficiency as well as the homogeneity of the Nordic societies and the social investments of these societies in their citizens.

(The Nordic countries consist of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden as well as their associated territories – with different levels of autonomy – the Faroe Islands and Greenland [Denmark] and Åland [Finland].)

         ‘"The Nordic enigma" is a successful marriage between hard-core competitive capitalism
          and the pursuit of egalitarian policies’.

The study provides a concise summary of how these societies function with additional comments on the socio-historical development of independent Finland. It presents the reader with pros and cons, arguments and facts.

        ‘For some analysts the Nordic welfare state is a dystopia to be avoided at all costs....
        It is simply argued that that the welfare state destroys the incentives to work.’
        ‘Despite their strong welfare states and heavy tax burdens – often said to be poison 
        to competitiveness – the Nordic countries are doing well in economic terms.’

The reader is indeed challenged to ponder the best recipes for a better life. Last but not least: how will the ‘recipes’ need to be adapted in the future?

In pursuit of a conscience

19 March 2012 | Drama, Fiction

‘An unflinching opera and a hot-blooded cantata about a time when the church was torn apart, Finland was divided and gays stopped being biddable’: this is how Pirkko Saisio’s new play HOMO! (music composed by Jussi Tuurna) is described by the Finnish National Theatre, where it is currently playing to full houses. This tragicomical-farcical satire takes up serious issues with gusto. In this extract we meet Veijo Teräs, troubled by his dreams of Snow White, who resembles his steely MP wife Hellevi – and seven dwarves. Introduction by Soila Lehtonen

Dictators and bishops: Scene 15, ‘A small international gay opera’. Photographs: The Finnish National Theatre / Laura Malmivaara, 2011

Veijo Teräs
Hellevi, Veijo’s wife and a Member of Parliament
Hellevi’s Conscience
Rebekka, Hellevi and Veijo’s daughter
Moritz, Hellevi and Veijo’s godson
Agnes af Starck-Hare, Doctor of Psychiatry
Seven Dwarves
Tom of Finland
The Bishop of Mikkeli
Adolf Hitler
Albert Speer
Josef Stalin
Old gays: Kale, Jorma, Rekku, Risto
Olli, Uffe,Tiina, Jorma: people from SETA [the Finnish LGBT association]
Second Lieutenant, Private Teräs, the men in the company
A Policeman
Big Gay, Little Gay, Middle Gay
William Shakespeare
Hermann Göring
Hans-Christian Andersen
Teemu & Oskari, a gay couple
The Apostle Paul
Father Nitro
Winston Churchill


On the stage, a narrow closet.

Veijo Teräs appears, struggling to get out of the closet.

Veijo Teräs is dressed as a prince. He is surprised and embarrassed to see that the audience is already there. He seems to be waiting for something.

He speaks, but continues to look out over the audience expectantly.

Snow White's spouse, Veijo (Juha Muje), and the dwarves. Photo: Laura Malmivaara, 2011

This outfit isn’t specifically for me, because… I mean, it’s part of this whole thing. This Snow White thing. I’m waiting for the play to start. Just like you are. My name is Veijo Teräs and I’m playing the point of view role in this story. Writers put point of view roles like this in their plays nowadays. They didn’t use to.

Just to be clear – this isn’t a ballet costume. I’m not going to do any ballet dancing, but I won’t mind if someone dances, even if it’s a man. Particularly if it’s a man. But I don’t watch. Ballet, I mean. Not at the opera house, or on television, or anywhere, and I have no idea why we had to bring up ballet – or I had to bring it up – because this is a historical costume, so it’s appropriate. This is what men used to wear, real men like Romeo and Hamlet, or Cyrano de Bergerac. But we in the theatre these days have a hell of a job getting an audience to listen to what a man has to say when he’s standing there saying what he has to say in an outfit like this. People get the idea that it’s a humorous thing, but this isn’t, this Snow White thing, where I play the prince. Snow White is waiting in her glass casket, she died from an apple, which seems to have become the Apple logo, Lord knows why, the one on the laptops you see on the tables of every café in town. More…

Kirjoituksia sankaruudesta [Writings on heroism]

25 March 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Kirjoituksia sankaruudesta
[Writings on heroism]
Toim. [Ed. by] Ulla-Maija Peltonen & Ilona Kemppainen
Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, 2010. 330 p., ill.
ISBN 978-952-222-207-7
€ 29, paperback

This book examines Finnish heroism and anti-heroism by using approaches from folklore studies, history and literary theory. Political ‘heroism’ manufactured by the media is explored through a study of in-depth personal portraits of Finnish politicians published in the country’s biggest newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, between 1981 and 2005. According to the research material, a positive impression is made by a narrative about a politician who is an independent thinker even in the context of his own party, from an ordinary home, engaged in manual work in his youth and risen to success overcoming setbacks through his own merits and without intrigue. The story of the European Union’s Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn, is a heroic story about a politician who dares believe in a European Finland even when it was disadvantageous to his career. Since the 1990s, writers have begun to take a renewed interest in war heroism; the climate in the 1960s and 1970s was pacifist, but now the ‘Winter War spirit’, which is deemed heroic, has been surfacing in an ever-increasing variety of situations, including economic crises.
Translated by Ruth Urbom

John Lagerbohm & al.: Me puolustimme elämää. Naiskohtaloita sotakuvien takaa [We were defending life. The fates of women behind pictures of war]

21 April 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

John Lagerbohm & Jenni Kirves & Olli Kleemola
Me puolustimme elämää. Naiskohtaloita sotakuvien takaa
[We were defending life. The fates of women behind pictures of war]
Esipuhe [Foreword]: Elisabeth Rehn
Helsinki: Otava, 2010. 176 p., ill.
ISBN 978-951-1-24660-2
€ 41, hardback

The women’s narratives of the Winter War (1939–40) and the Continuation War (1941–44) in this book are complemented by memoirs and academic writing, as well as journalistic extracts, personal recollections and interviews. It focuses on the status of women in wartime, showing that, in addition to the members of the Lotta Svärd auxiliary organisation, women carried a great deal of responsibility in a variety of roles, taking up traditionally male-dominated work in ports and mines. During the war years, the duty to work applied to all citizens aged 15 and up for whom various tasks could be assigned. One of the difficult jobs for ‘Lottas’ on the front line was placing the bodies of fallen soldiers into coffins and sending them home for burial. To maintain morale, it was important to the women to derive joy even from little things, and that humour comes through in this book as well. There is a wide range of photographic material, some of which comes from private collections.