He is one of my favourite writers, and my favourite Finnish writer, so different from his compatriots in that he managed to write such compelling powerful stories situated in ancient civilizations. His novels can be divided into two categories: social-realism depressive narratives about life in Helsinki or Finland in the 30s-40s and historical, (historical/fantastic) stories mostly from the ancient Egypt and Roman/Byzantine civilizations. His probably most famous book known abroad is Sinuhe. The Egyptian. It still is the most successful Finnish novel abroad. It's a colourful life story of an Egyptian doctor, which is told with such ease and at the same time the psychological and emotional complexity of great myths at the same time managing to stay true to the historical time and bring it to life. It can also be read as a story of his own deep disillusionment with life in the world post WWII world. Notoriously he wrote this novel in a couple of months in his summer cabin in after the end of the WWII. For me it was like a travel, the same euphoric engulfing feeling of immersion into a new world.
He always used tragic, crisis moments in his historical novels, times of great change and cataclysms and there is almost a Hemingwayan pathos in it, dignity in the face of certain defeat, deep pessimism gleaming through the passionate love of life.
There are also many historical parallels in Sinuhe with the world of Second World War period, and many of his scholars saw him depicting Hittites as a prototype of the Nazi Germany. He also addressed such themes as religion, the power of ideas, believes on human life, the search for truth.