Jukka Viikilä Grabs the Finlandia Prize for Literature – Junior Award Winner Niemi’s Story About Multicultural Finland

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Jukka Viikilä. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

“I will give the prize sum in its whole to my wife,” said Jukka Viikilä, 43, the winner of Finlandia Prize for Literature on Thursday afternoon at the Finnish National Theatre, making the room laugh.

Viikilä, who is a Helsinki-based author, received the award worth of 30,000 euros for his novel Akvarelleja Engelin kaupungissa (Watercolours from the City of Engel).

But why would he give the money to his wife?

“We’ve been married for 18 years, and during the early days when I wasn’t making money my wife supported us financially,” he said.

Akvarelleja Engelin kaupungista is Viikilä’s first novel, a story in the form of a diary, explaining the work of Carl Ludvig Engel, the German architect of Helsinki, who’s work we can marvel while looking at the buildings surrounding the Senate Square – from the Helsinki Cathedral to the main building of University of Helsinki. While Helsinki never became a home for Engel, it became his lifework. He pondered the human price of his life quietly, till his last breath.

Mari Manninen. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Mari Manninen. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Mari Manninen, 45, a journalist from Helsinki, won the Tieto-Finlandia award, the prize for non-fiction for her work, Yhden lapsen kansa (A Nation of One Child). Manninen ponders on the one child policy of China during 1980-2015, which affected the life of every Chinese. For her book, Manninen interviewed 16 families across China, making the voices of the abandoned children heard.

Juuli Niemi. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Juuli Niemi. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Juuli Niemi, 35, another Helsinki-based author, won the Finlandia Junior Award for her work, Et kävele yksin (You Won’t Walk Alone). The book, directed for children and youth, paints a portrait of young people searching for their identity. It’s a story of searching for one’s own path in a multicultural Finland.

Finlandia Award

The Finlandia Prize is the most prestigous literary award in Finland by the Finnish Book Foundation. It is awarded annually to the author of the best novel written by a Finnish citizen (Finlandia Award), children’s book (Finlandia Junior Award), and non-fiction book (Tieto-Finlandia Award).[1] The award sum is 30,000 euros.

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