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Picture: Oleksandr. K (Flickr)
If you are slightly interested in the written word, you might have noticed that Finland is a very well-read nation that takes pride in its literary treasures. Among them are of course the Kalevala and Seven Brothers. But what about contemporary authors? And specifically, female writers? Fear not, bookworms. Finland is a country of great female writers that have explored all genres. Here are some recommendations to add to your spring reading list.
‘Dark Paradise’ by Rosa Liksom
In this short story collection, you will find some rather uncomfortable characters whose actions deal with murder, suicide and addiction. The stories, unrelated to one another, are told with a detached tone, making them seem not sensational but rather factual. The sometimes-confused reader will get to know a woman who refuses to leave prison, a man who kills a grocer over fifteen cents and my favorite, an obsessive-compulsive cleaner. It is a short read set in a frozen landscape that will perhaps slightly disturb you but also keep you turning each page.
‘True’ by Riikka Pulkkinen
Riikka Pulkkinen is one of the most notable contemporary Finnish authors and in her novel True she explores the notion of memory, loss and family. Three generations are united as Elsa, the matriarch of the family approaches her death. As the family gathers in their Helsinki home to support Elsa, their memories and struggles come to light. The novel was shortlisted for the Finlandia Fiction Prize of 2010 and will soon be adapted into a film. If you enjoy more realist stories that revolve around family this is definitely a must read.
Picture: © Otava / Jouni Harala
‘The Parson’s Widow’ by Marja-Liisa Vartio
The novel, published posthumously in 1967, revolves around Adele, the parson’s widow, who argues with her maid, Alma, about the fire that consumed the parsonage and other topics. What I liked the most about this book is that it truly gave the sense of life in a small rural Finnish village during the 20th century. Although the novel deals mostly with the conversations between Adele and Alma, other characters appear. The seemingly trivial conversation actually lead us into Adele’s world and inner obsessions.
‘Oneiron’ by Laura Lindstedt
Winner of the Finlandia Prize in 2015, Oneiron tells the story of seven women who meet in a white space after their death. It is in this undefined space where they discuss their lives; how did they get there? Who are they and what happened to them? Without knowledge of themselves or the others, they try to reconstruct their identities and their past lives. The novel deals around the idea of the moment immediately after one’s death, so if you enjoy speculative fiction you might want to give this novel a chance.
Picture: Jarkko Mikkonen
‘My First Murder’ by Leena Lehtolainen
Crime novelist Leena Lehtolainen has gained fame in Finland for her stories about policewoman Maria Kallio. In her first novel, My First Murder, Maria Kallio faces her first murder case. Playboy Tommi Peltonen is found dead floating on the water at his family’s summer villa. There are seven suspects out of which Maria has to find the culprit before it is too late for someone else. The novel portrays life of an upper-class family and is a classic of Finnish crime stories.