A bookish birthday for Finland


Finland is 99 today, and counting. Independence Day today marks the start of the centenary year. The celebrations really kick off with the New Year – including Book Finland 2017 which celebrates something Finns do a lot of – reading. The average Finn borrows a book from the library every month and buys one every three months.

I don’t expect you to manage 100 Finnish books to celebrate Finland’s 100 years, but what about ten, one for each decade? Here’s my highly subjective list of favourites from the four years I’ve lived here, in alphabetical order. I read them in Finnish but some were written in the other languages of Finland too, Swedish and Sámi. They are all available in English translation. And yes, they are all by women.  Apart from Tove, they are all living, too (though her translator is going strong!), so you can expect to hear more from them in the next century…

  1. Terhi Ekebom (Finnish with English subtitles), The Ghost Child is a haunting and beautiful graphic novel.
  2. Emmi Itäranta tr. by the author, The City of Woven Streets shows what could happen when people don’t listen to their dreams and the natural world around them.
  3. Tove Jansson tr. Thomas Teal, The Woman Who Borrowed Memories is a masterwork of short stories for adults by a woman who shouldn’t be defined by Moomins alone.
  4. Rosa Liksom tr. Lola Rogers, Compartment no. 6 is a train journey across post-Soviet Siberia.
  5. Laura Linstedt, Oneiron won the Finlandia Prize for literature last year and is being translated into English right now, to be published in September 2017.
  6. Rauni Magga Lukkari tr. Kaija Anttonen, The Time of the Lustful Mother is a rare glimpse into the Sámi world in English.
  7. Sofie Oksanen tr. Lola Rogers, Purge, interweaves the violent lives of two women in Estonia and is also a play, and opera and a film.
  8. Johanna Sinisalo, tr. Lola Rogers, Not Before Sundown brings the forest into the heart of the city, into the home of a gay photographer.
  9. Salla Simmukka, tr. Owen Witesman, As Red as Blood is the first in a fast-paced adventure trilogy that has been translated into dozens of languages.
  10. Maria Turtschaninoff tr. A. A. Prime, Maresi, is the chronicle of a community of women for which Film4 has just bought the film rights.

The picture is a very classic national romantic Finnish view I shot from Koli National Park… The sort of landscape that shaped many of those books.


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Posted in books, gender, history, literature, translation

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