The shortlist for the 2008 Finlandia Prize was announced a few days back. Here it is:
- 14 Solmua Greenwichiin, Olli Jalonen [Eng: 14 Knots To Greenwich]
- Kosmonautti, Katri Lipson [Eng: The Cosmonaut]
- Marie, Arne Nevanlinna
- Puhdistus, Sofi Oksanen [Eng: The Purge]
- Kohtuuttomuus, Pirkko Saisio [Eng: Immoderation]
- Paholaisen Haarukka, Juha Sepp?l? [Eng: The Devil?s Fork]
There's also a non-fiction and children's book Finlandia prize at the link above.
Anyway, here's a bit about each of the shortlistees:
14 Solmua Greenwichiin, Olli Jalonen
14 Knots to Greenwich is the story of a race around the world along the zero meridian. British couple Graham and Isla, their Finnish friend Petr J?rvi and later also Per?s little brother Kari travel from Greenwich, through the Sahara to the South Pole, from there to the Pacific, on to the Arctic Ocean and Spitzbergen, and finally back to where they started.Kosmonautti, Katri Lipson
Borrowing the disguise of the TV format, the story is not just a tale of an incomparable journey, but also a description of human attachments, love, and the limits of commitment. The novel carries the reader to times and places on levels both fleshly and symbolic that evade the simplifications of the entertaining framing narrative. There are many interpretations of the events of the journey, but the story that must be constructed for the public is the falsest of all.
Set in the Soviet Union at the end of the 1980s, ?The Cosmonaut? tells story of a young man, nearly made a national hero, who dreams of a career as a cosmonaut, and his music teacher?s unrequieted love. The setting is the derelict, slushy city of Murmansk. Among the downtrodden and abused are those who look to the stars ? and those who will not allow it.Marie, Arne Nevanlinna
?The Cosmonaut? is a controlled novel, similar in its perfection to the Soviet Union?s hockey team in the 1980s. Lipson draws on the literature of this neighbouring country almost to the point of pastiche. The novel reaches for what seems an impossibility: the ethos of classic Russian literature.
A novel of a single day; a hundred years of solitude. Born in Strasbourg, Marie lives through the last day of the 20th century in an old age home, but her memories and the present overlap and interlock in her mind, one melting into the other. Marie is an ironic tour-de-force and the perceptive story of a woman who begins in the fetters of Juliette?s balcony and ends with a helpless hundred-year valse triste.Puhdistus, Sofi Oksanen
French, German, Jewish, Finland-Swedish, Finnish, Russian: Nevanlinna deliciously brings out both prejudices and opportunistic turncoats, ever mindful of social class. Identities are built, or remain unbuilt, through the light touches and collisions of culture, meetings often drawn with tragicomic features.
The year is 1992: Zara is an escaped prostitute who flees her abuser to go to Western Estonia, to the house of a relative, and her aunt Aliide is made to face the shameful betrayal she committed in the 1940s. The skilfull narrative shifts between different time frames and builds tremendous suspense. Oksanen maintains masterful control of both the broad strokes and the details of the novel.Kohtuuttomuus, Pirkko Saisio
?The Purge? is a story of shame, its anatomy and origins. The novel shows how the private is public and the personal political. War has a familiar, cruel human face: the human body with its everyday needs is the setting for commerce, humiliation, and betrayal, as well as a helpless witness struggling for survival in the shadow of ideology.
The narrator of Pirkko Saisio?s novel, a youngish journalist, is ?the other man,? who devotes himself to being an assistant to a charismatic ?him? who aspires to celebrity. They are living at the turn of the 1990s, but the depiction resonates with the frightening facts described so vividly in the evening papers this autumn: the death of a populist reveals athe surprising circumstances and dynamics of human relationships.Paholaisen Haarukka, Juha Sepp?l?
?Immoderation? tells a story of social climbing and the volatilty of celebrity. Why ?the other man? is blinded and left to be abused by a narcissist is left unexplained; there are various patterns of dependency and attachment. Liquor and sex, politics and publicity, money and lust for power bubble up in this raucous satire. ?Immoderation? also aptly describes the luridness and lavishness of Saisio?s novel.
Juha Sepp?l??s ?The Devil?s Fork? is a harsh and merciless novel, a voice yelling in your ear, a sermon on the state of the world and people without qualities. The novel turns its back on conventional aesthetics. Its apparent formlessness is in fact form, however, and the language is expressive and clear.
?The Devil?s Fork? refers to an optical illusion. It describes both the world of the novel and its narrative level ? the subordinate structures among its characters ? a treasurer, a film director, a network producer, and a sociologist. Through the character of a clockmaker, time in all its eclecticness, comes to the fore. But the feeling of the continuity of history is a luxury that those who have been displaced can?t afford.