The Helsinki Book Fair brings together more than 300 publishers and creates a cultural forum where new and established writers can share their work. This year, the theme of the fair was freedom of speech and American literature. More than 40 international authors attended the event, and the main guest was American-Mexican writer Jennifer Clement. She is the author of Gun Love, Prayers for the Stolen, A True Story Based on Lies and The Poison That Fascinates, as well as a poet and the first woman president of PEN International.
Clement’s novels deal with human right issues and she explores themes like women equality, gun control and violence through captivating prose. One of her most recognized novels, Prayers for the Stolen, focuses on the women of Guerrero, Mexico, who suddenly found themselves alone and vulnerable after the men in their lives set off to find better opportunities elsewhere. Because her topics expose some of the harsh realities faced in rural Mexico, we asked if she ever considered writing under a pseudonym. “No,” she quickly answered, “I like transparency and it never occurred to me not to sign my name to whatever work I do.”
“I like transparency and it never occurred to me not to sign my name to whatever work I do.”
As you might have gathered already, her work is inspired by current events that she finds both disturbing and painful. Like most writers, Clement’s writing process is a long one. “I write 50 words and cut 80 words, so it’s always hard for me to move ahead,” she explained. Her novels take a lot of research and she makes sure she crafts every sentence carefully. The language of her work is mostly English, although she writes in Spanish as well. “There’s a much larger vocabulary in English,” she said.
This is the third time the author visits Finland. “I have always loved Finland and recently discovered that I have Finnish DNA”, Clement shared with us, “I was feeling the call of my ancestors!” Before ending our interview with the writer, we asked her what she hoped Finnish readers would get from her novels. “Knowledge about parts of the world they don’t know about and exposure to a way of writing about difficult things in an enchanting, beautiful way” she concluded.
It is now possible to find three of her novels in Finnish.