FILI Book Picks 2023


Ann-Christin Antell: Rival to the Cotton Mill

Cotton Mill 1-3

Helsinki Literary Agency, Puuvillatehtaan kilpailija, Gummerus 2023 & Puuvillatehtaan varjossa (2021), Puuvillatehtaan perijä (2022)

FILI Reads The historical fiction Cotton Mill trilogy, set in Turku, Finland’s oldest city, takes the reader from the industrializing society of the late 19th century, through the repressive Russian rule of the early 20th century, to the jazz and Prohibition era of the 1920s. The books offer an interesting and authentic portrayal of the period’s social changes, the status of women and class society – with no lack of romance. “I want to write about love, but the story has a large social framework”, the author has said in an interview. Warmly recommended to all lovers of quality entertainment.

Susanna Hast: Body of Evidence

Helsinki Literary Agency, Ruumis/huoneet, S&S 2022

Guest Read Body of Evidence by Susanna Hast is an interesting novel that deals with the author’s own personal history. She studies herself, trying to learn the truth of what happened to her as a teenager when she was a victim of sexual violence. She tried to cope and thought she was doing fine, but later noticed that things were not so straightforward. She courageously seeks out her forgotten past and examines this void in her history through the memories of her body. It is a bold novel and very impressive. Recommended reading! – Claire Saint-Germain, translator

Marja Kyllönen: The Undeparted

Helsinki Literary Agency, Vainajaiset, Teos 2022

FILI Reads A wonderful novel about evil and endless waiting, but also about hope. It’s only after some time that the reader comes to understand that the book’s frenetic narrator is a child who was never born. The disappointment of the unborn person, enduring a savage wait in an eternal limbo, spreads to the mother and to other friends and family. Winner of the prestigious Runeberg Prize, the novel combines horror, folklore and incredibly beautiful language. It’s been twenty years since Kyllönen’s last novel, but this book was worth waiting for.

Laura Lindstedt & Sinikka Vuola: 101 Ways to Kill Your Husband

Helsinki Literary Agency, 101 tapaa tappaa aviomies, Siltala 2022


Miki Liukkonen: Guest Mode

Helsinki Literary Agency, Ennen lintuja, Gummerus 2022

Merja Mäki: Before the Birds

Elina Ahlback Literary Agency, Neiti Steinin keittäjätär, Otava 2022

FILI Reads A deeply touching war evacuee story that depicts loss and longing for home. The book’s events take place in the 1940s, when Finns in the east were forced to flee war. The main character, Alli, dreams of following in his father’s footsteps as a fisherman on Lake Ladoga, but his evacuation journey leads him to the expansive plains of Ostrobothnia. It’s a challenge to adapt to the new conditions and to live in the home of complete strangers, but Alli’s tenacity and sisu help him make it through the difficult times. The story is unfortunately true in all times and all cultures.

Leena Parkkinen: Miss Stein's Cook

Helsinki Literary Agency, Hävitys, Siltala 2022

Iida Rauma: Destruction

Helsinki Literary Agency, Matara, Teos 2021

Matias Riikonen: Matara

Bonnier Rights Finland, Rósa and Björk, WSOY 2022 & Hildur (2022)

FILI Reads Matias Riikonen’s widely recognised, award-winning novel is a story about the serious fantasy games of childhood. Boys at a summer camp spend their days in a realm of their own invention, the Republic of Matara, with its own laws and social structure, plots and alliances. Riikonen’s fourth novel takes children seriously in a way few other works do. In Riikonen’s hands, the birdsong-filled woods of early summer and the violence and tenderness of the boys meld into superb, startling literature. This is a book about war games and brotherhood, about building a society and then destroying it, about believing in your dreams and then finding new dreams to believe in. It’s a book about becoming one’s own self – it’s about us.

Satu Rämö: Rósa and Björk

Hildur Series

Bonnier Rights Finland, Häväistyt, WSOY 2022 & Verivelka (2019), Hyvitys (2020), Vaiettu (2021)

FILI Reads These detective novels by a popular social media influencer and non-fiction writer broke Finnish sales records. Set in Iceland, the novels draw you in with fascinating depictions of the setting and a dramatic arc that will continue to haunt you for a long time. The books’ multidimensional protagonists are also spot-on: the introverted Icelandic detective Hildur and her Finnish intern Jakob, who likes to knit. Both are weighed down by family tragedies, which we follow in flashbacks alongside the murder investigations. Five-star “Nordic Blue”.

Arttu Tuominen: Shamed

Delta Series

Elina Ahlback Literary Agency, Arvejord, Förlaget 2022

FILI Reads Set in southwest Finland, in the coastal city of Pori, the River Delta series depicts police work and murder investigations in an irresistibly clever and exciting way. The books feature strong and multidimensional characters whose morals and values are put to the test in the course of events and make the reader weigh their own perspectives. Each part of the series focuses on one particular member of the police station, and the reader is immersed in the character’s life. We learn about the tragic event that took place in Inspector Paloviita’s childhood, about “The Ox” Oksman’s struggles with his sexuality, and the reasons for Linda’s alcoholism. A great detective series that we can recommend even to people who don’t read detective novels!

Maria Turtschaninoff: Inherited Land

FILI Reads This story – or rather, these stories – pull you in right away. Without a doubt, Turtschaninoff is one of the best storytellers in Finnish literature, someone you want to listen to and who has something to say. Inherited Land is a multigenerational story about the interaction between humans and nature. It’s also a story about how people and places are connected to each other, about how the memory of a place fades over generations and about what responsibility we ultimately have for places. A wise, beautiful and occasionally even titillating book.

Children's & Young Adult Books

Sofia Chanfreau & Amanda Chanfreau: A Giraffe’s Heart Is Unbelievably Large

Helsinki Literary Agency, Giraffens hjärta är ovanligt stort, Schildts & Söderströms 2022

FILI Reads Ten-year-old Vega doesn’t have a mother. Instead, she has something that no one else has – she sees the most wonderful imaginary animals, who bring her joy, help and companionship. One day, the lonely girl gets a pen pal, who helps her embark on a great adventure. She sets out to find her mother, about whom no one will say a word. This children’s novel, which won the Finlandia Prize for Children’s and YA Literature, is a dazzlingly beautifully written and illustrated story about longing and a devout wish to belong to a family and to find one’s own place in the world. A memorable reading experience for children and for the whole family, with just the right mix of excitement, wisdom and magical realism.

Lena Frölander-Ulf: Rafsa Wildfur

The Fight for Stonefield Trilogy

Rights & Brands, Rafsa Vildpäls, Förlaget 2023

FILI Reads Rafsa Wildfur is a top-notch adventure story. The brave and headstrong marmot Rafsa, her best friend, the slightly more cautious and thoughtful Kotten, and the snake Ziczac, who escaped from the enemy camp and no longer wants to live the ruthless life of a snake, go on a life-and-death journey together. Their objective is nothing less than saving their world!

Maija Hurme: Last & Found

Nominated for the 2023 Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize

Koja Agency, Kaikki löytämäni viimeiset, Etana Editions 2022

FILI Reads Have you ever thought about just how many last things there are? Like the last piece of chocolate – who ate it, by the way? The long-awaited last day when you still have to wear a hat before spring arrives. Or the last day of school before summer vacation. Very last things can also be wistful or sad, and some last things might not be the last ones after all! Written and illustrated by the multiple award–winning Maija Hurme, Last and Found (also published in Swedish as Alla mina sista) is a wonderful picture book that encourages people of all ages to discuss the last things that are important to them.

Mari Kujanpää: My Ugly Diary

Elina Ahlback Literary Agency, Rumuuspäiväkirja, Otava 2023

FILI Reads How concretely and touchingly Mari Kujanpää depicts a young victim of school bullying who hates her own body. Fortunately, even a single kind person can be enough to change one’s view. And in the best case, they can change everything. The world of young Malva and the realistic, beautiful narrative are so vividly written that we had to read the entire story in one sitting. A book about body shame for the young people and parents of today.

Marika Maijala: The Magic Flower

Koja Agency, Taikurinkukka, Etana Editions 2022

Elina Pitkäkangas: Sang

Winner of the 2023 Topelius Prize and 2023 City of Tampere Literary Prize

Helsinki Literary Agency, Vi ska ju bara cykla förbi, Schildts & Söderströms 2022

FILI Reads Sang is a thrilling fantasy novel for young adults and other discerning readers. Pitkäkangas has created a fascinating and sometimes dark story, set in the future in a world that is nearly destroyed. In the totalitarian state of Fusang, in East Asia, residents are monitored through a device that is mounted on their wrists. The divide between the social classes is immense, and young Kong Dawei has to battle an overwhelming opponent to defend his own morals and values.

Ellen Strömberg: We'll Just Ride Past

Helsinki Literary Agency, Vi ska ju bara cykla förbi, Schildts & Söderströms 2022


Pirkko Kotirinta: In Search of Hilma af Klint

An Artist of Spiritualism, Science; and the Natural World

Bonnier Rights Finland, Hilma af Klintin arvoitus, Tammi 2021

FILI Reads Pirkko Kotiranta’s book about the Swedish artist Hilma af Klint is a fascinating combination of biography and travelogue. Kotiranta’s study of archival sources provides a solid background. Then the reader gets to come along as the author travels to interview people who are related to af Klint’s life in different ways. The story unfolds like a detective novel. Hilma af Klint’s works will be on display at Tate Modern in London in the spring of 2023, so she continues to be a very relevant artist.

Tiina Raevaara: Me, My Dog and Humanity

Elina Ahlback Literary Agency, Minä, koira ja ihmiskunta, Like 2022

FILI Reads Tiina Raevaara’s book deals with the history of the coexistence of species. A strong animal connection has been vital for the survival of mankind, and through the process of evolution, humans have become more and more gentle and cooperative at the same time as the species’ aggressiveness has receded. Like dogs, modern humans are also domesticated animals. The book has a strong personal perspective that pet owners will easily identify with: an animal can be the greatest comfort when the company of other people feels like a burden. The author also openly discusses her own burnout, social sensitivity and excessive empathy, and seeks out an explanation for them from research and from an evolutionary perspective.

Lauri Nummenmaa: Evil

Bonnier Rights Finland, Pahuus, Tammi 2022

FILI Reads Brain researcher Lauri Nummenmaa writes about aggression, violent crime, racism, everyday sadism, lying and the desire for revenge – in other words, about human evil. Genes have a strong influence on violent behaviour, but the better we understand the functioning of the brain, the more effectively we can tackle violence. An interesting book, written for a general audience, about the dark side of the human mind, but also about how evil can be controlled. Awareness and education are the most effective tools for fighting evil!