FILI Books Picks – Fiction

©Otto Virtanen

Meri Valkama: Yours, Margot

Winner of the Debut of the the Year Prize 2021.

A fascinating debut novel about the fragility of memory and the power of silence, but also about the collapse of a nation as well as the right to feel nostalgic for a fallen society.

In the early 80’s, Markus Siltanen moves with his family to East Berlin as a foreign correspondent. When the family eventually returns to Finland, Vilja’s childhood memories begin to dissolve into nothingness. In 2011, after her father’s death, Vilja finds a bundle of letters from someone called Margot with whom her father had a passionate affair in Berlin. Vilja makes a decision to track Margot and returns to Berlin.
Meri Valkama approaches the crumbling of family ties, remembrance and forgetting, and the need to understand the past in order to move on.

Original title: Sinun, Margot. WSOY 2022, 556 pp.
Foreign rights: Bonnier Rights Finland, bonnierrights.fi

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©Antti J. Leinonen

Pekka Juntti: Wild Dog

A strong debut novel, set in the forgotten villages of Lapland where people and trees take care of each other.

When Samuel finds out that Nanok and Inuk, two of the prestigious mushing dogs, have gone lost and within only a few days have gone wild and learned to hunt, the young man is determined to track the huskies down. On the way, he stumbles upon too many village secrets and is ostracized by his community. He ventures deeper and deeper into the wilderness of the breathtaking Arctic landscape, and in a near-death experience learns that there are still places where nature is predominant.
Wild Dog tackles humanity’s relationship with nature, especially how humans have taken control of flatland’s gorgeous waterways and cut down its magnificent forests. A gripping plot carries this story along, knitting together all of its important topics.

Original title: Villikoira. Otava 2022, 352 pp.
Foreign rights: Rights & Brands, rightsandbrands.com

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©Liisa Takala

E. L. Karhu: To My Brother

A masterful and sometimes brutal tale of an anonymous woman who dotes on her very different brother. She emerges as a sort of anti-hero, an almost ugly character who is bound compulsively to her desires, while her brother is described as a handsome dreamboat. She doesn’t manage to fit inside the norms of the day, while her brother more clearly does. If someone were to look at her, they might see a loser who binges on sweets, devours soap operas, and trails her brother like a shadow but whose manic narration forces one to stare, to look more closely.
To My Brother is an absurd bildungsroman germinating from internalized self-hatred, one that takes place at the fringes if the center is a multi-part mirror.

Original title: Veljelleni. Teos 2021, 288 pp.
Foreign rights: Helsinki Literary Agency, helsinkiagency.fi

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©Tomi Reunanen

Maisku Myllymäki: Holly

A hypnotising and fervent novel about two very different women and a psychological suspense story about isolation.

Eva, who works as a journalist for a nature magazine, arrives on an island in search of a rare bird. She doesn’t know Holly, the woman who made the sighting. As she walks the island in search of the bird, focus gradually begins to turn on the two women and their relationship. They seem to have nothing at all in common and the loneliness on this faded island is far from silent. The novel takes its cue from Iris Murdoch’s novel The Sea, the Sea, which is Holly’s favorite book. The pace of the novel is thrilling, filled to the brim with meaning.

Original title: Holly. WSOY 2021, 225 pp.
Foreign rights: Ferly, ferlyco.com

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©Marek Sabogal

Iida Rauma: Destruction

A case study of an individual who was nearly destroyed and all that is being destroyed right now.

Destruction is about bullying and the violent and long-lasting effects it has on children growing up with fear. While jogging at night, A sees a familiar figure at the city’s desolate fringes and realizes nothing ends, nothing is over. So begins a breathless, desperate attempt to hunt down and escape the past across the ravaged city of Turku, into the water-damaged classrooms of the 1990s and a darkness for which there are no words but still must be expressed. A cruel, precise and breathless description of many years of oppression, psychological trauma and even outright physical violence.

Original title: Hävitys. Siltala 2021, 370 pp.
Foreign rights: Helsinki Literary Agency, helsinkiagency.fi

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©Jonne Räsänen/Otava

Jukka Viikilä: Heavenly Reception

Winner of the Finlandia Prize 2021.

Author Jan Holm is undergoing urgent surgery: the blood in his heart has been circulating in the wrong direction for who knows how long. After leaving the hospital, Holm publishes a personal novel of which everyone will soon have an opinion.
Heavenly Reception is a novel of a thousand subjects and persons with a strong personal core, a commentary, research, glossary, feedback and google search, a wild explanation work and, above all, a polyphonic story about the readers of Helsinki who in return tell about the events in their lives and reading Heavenly Reception. The text is fragmentary, both confusing and well-managed, but isn’t a challenge to read thanks to the dazzling language. A work about loneliness, serious illness and metafiction.

Original title: Taivaallinen vastaanotto. Otava 2021, 377 pp.
Foreign rights: Rights & Brands, rightsandbrands.com

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©Teos

Book Cover

Matias Riikonen: Matara

Winner of the Tulenkantaja Prize 2021, nominated for the Finlandia and Runeberg Prizes.

Matara is about an imaginary micro nation founded by a group of boys called Matara. This fictional state is a complex society based on the Roman empire with all its rules, hierarchies and complicated infrastructure. Senators scheme in togas made of sheets, mannequins make for wives, and circus entertainments are devised to thrill the charcoal-whiskered rabble. At times one forgets one is reading a portrayal of boys at play and fears one is reading a description of reality.

Original title: Matara. Teos 2021, 310 pp.
Foreign rights: Helsinki Literary Agency, helsinkiagency.fi

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©Marek Sabogal

Niillas Holmberg: Halla Helle

Samu leaves Southern Finland behind and moves to Sápmi. Something strange and powerful is taking him to Utsjoki: Elle Hallala, the best-known Sámi person in Finland, known by her artist alias Halla Helle.

Halla Helle is the striking first novel of Niillas Holmberg, whose poetry collections have been nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize twice. It is also the first novel published in decades that is written by a Sámi author dealing with Sámi identity and culture.

Original title: Halla Helle. Gummerus 2021, 455 pp.
Foreign rights: Helsinki Literary Agency, helsinkiagency.fi

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©Jonne Räsänen/Otava

Koko Hubara: Bechi

A groundbreaking debut novel from one of the most interesting authors of the generation.

How can you not destroy your own child? Why do two people remember everything so differently? And what are the things they would rather forget? Bechi is the story of a close, yet destructive relationship between a mother and a daughter, and of a desire to belong somewhere while also wanting to break free.

Original title: Bechi. Otava Publishers 2021, 300 pp.
Foreign rights: Elina Ahlback Literary Agency, ahlbackagency.com

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©Otto Virtanen

Martta Kaukonen: Follow the Butterfly

An addictive psychological thriller about a twenty-year-old serial killer and her therapist in the spirit of Gillian Flynn.

Ida, 20, was abused as a child, and now her talented celebrity therapist Clarissa is determined to save her. They begin a cat-and-mouse game, and only one of them knows that they share a mutual secret from the past. Will the other one realize it before she gets murdered?

Original title: Terapiassa. WSOY 2021, 407 pp.
Foreign rights: Elina Ahlback Literary Agency, ahlbackagency.com

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©Uupi Tirronen

Joona Keskitalo: The Disobedient

A shameless and highly addictive story about a ruthless climb to the top of the drug game.

Former schoolmates meet again by chance and come up with a new business idea. They put all their marketing, branding, and logistics skills to use and find new ways to effectively promote, sell, and distribute drugs on the dark web. The Disobedient starts a series of crime novels that dive into the core of the unpredictable world of drug business.

Original title: Tottelemattomat. Bazar 2021, 377pp.
Foreign rights: Ferly, ferlyco.com

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©Niklas Sandström

Kaj Korkea-aho: The Red Room

How far are we willing to go to fulfill the fantasies of our own and of others?

A young writer promises to write a book in exchange for an affordable apartment in Helsinki. But when a lonely gentleman offers him the home of his dreams, the young man finds himself involved in a remarkable game. He begins to write a story that takes the reader to the labyrinth of desire and submission, to the nightlife of 1980s Helsinki, and to the intricate setups of relationships between men – but what is his place in it?

Original title: Röda rummet. Förlaget 2021, 320 pp.
Foreign rights: Elina Ahlback Literary Agency, ahlbackagency.com

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©Otto Virtanen

Saija Kuusela: Look at Me

A masterfully written novel takes the reader to the Scandinavian wilderness.

Nea Guttorm is a half-Sámi police officer who leaves Oslo and her just ended marriage behind and moves up north to find peace and tranquility. But suddenly her new community is shaken to its core when an unidentified man’s body is discovered in an icy mountain stream, with the man’s eyes removed. Are Nea’s visions the key to solving this mystery? The Nea Guttorm series begins.

Original title: Katse. Tammi Publishers 2021, 352 pp.
Foreign rights: Bonnier Rights Finland, bonnierrights.fi

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©Johanna Laitanen

Rosa Liksom: The River

A captivating novel about migration, refugee camps, and the boundary between life and death.

September 1944. Tens of thousands of people are abandoning their homes to escape the destruction left in the wake of the Lapland War. A young girl whose family has been devastated by the conflict makes her way through this landscape, leading the cows from her home farm all the way.

”A northern masterpiece” (Karjalainen)

Original title: Väylä. Like Publishing 2021, 269 pp.
Foreign rights: Hedlund Literary Agency, hedlundagency.se

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©Jonne Räsänen/Otava

Tuomas Niskakangas: Their Turn to Burn

A skillfully plotted fast-paced political thriller.

Helsinki 2027. The young prime minister and leader of the right coalition, Leo Koski, wakes up on a Saturday morning to a hangover, with a naked woman in his bed and frustrating crowds roaring outside the gate of his residence. In the society, divisions have deepened, the middle class disappeared and most of Finland’s citizens literally fight to get by. Due to the clash of the economy, the political tensions between the classes have escalated and the society is volatile.

Original title: Roihu. Otava 2021, 525 pp.
Foreign rights: Rights & Brands, rightsandbrands.com

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©Otto Virtanen

Ida Pimenoff: I Wasn’t There

How many times can you abandon someone?

Vera is an artistic thirty-nine-year-old woman, pursuing a career while navigating life as a single parent in Helsinki. As a child, Vera’s father walked out on her, only to start afresh with a new wife and kids – something that Vera has spent years unpacking the effects of with her therapist. When Vera’s partner Aki leaves her for another woman, she is determined to ensure that their son has a happier childhood than she did.

Original title: Kutsu minut. WSOY 2021, 389 pp.
Foreign rights: Bonnier Rights Finland, bonnierrights.fi

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©Veikko Somerpuro

Johanna Venho: The Autumn Book

A beautiful novel about Tove Jansson.

It is a mist-grey and rush-yellow autumn in 1991. Maria, a young eco-activist, meets the seventy-eight-year-old Tove Jansson on an island surrounded by the sea. It would have been impossible to be both a good artist and a good wife, Tove ponders.

Original title: Syyskirja. WSOY 2021, 280 pp.
Foreign rights: Bonnier Rights Finland, bonnierrights.fi

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