Johanna Sinisalo

The acclaimed master of Finnish weird!

Johanna Sinisalo (b. 1958) is one of Finland’s most successful and internationally acclaimed authors. Praised by readers and critics alike, she has won several literary prizes, among them the Finlandia Prize in 2000 and the James Tiptree, Jr. Award in 2004. Johanna Sinisalo has been nominated for the Prix Escapades 2012, the Tähtivaeltaja (“Star Traveller”) award in 2014 and the Nebula Award in 2008. Her works have been translated into 19 languages.


Read more about Johanna Sinisalo at:

Written by Johanna Sinisalo

Iron Sky: Renate’s Story

Published:  2017 | Publisher: WSOY/ Johnny Kniga | Class: Fiction

Reading materials:
Finnish manuscript (September 2016)
English synopsis

The novel is based on earlier versions of the original Iron Sky screenplay, and on the background research conducted by author Johanna Sinisalo, who led the film’s original story team. The novel will be launched simultaneously with the premiere of Iron Sky: The Coming Race in 2017. Renate’s Story is a completely independent world and contains pitch black humor narrating the ways in which its main character, Renate Richter, raised on the National Socialist values of the 1940’s, sees the culture and habits of the Planet Earth.


Sinisalo_Auringon ydinWritten by Johanna Sinisalo

The Core of the Sun

Original title: Auringon Ydin | Published: September 2013 | Publisher: Teos
Class: Fiction | Format: 130 x 207 mm | Pages: 300 | Binding: Hardcover

Rights sold:
World English, Grove Atlantic
Czech Republic, Euromedia

France, Actes Sud
Germany, Klett-Cotta

Reading materials:
Finnish edition
English sample

In her latest novel, Johanna Sinisalo tells the story of The Eusistocratic Republic of Finland in 2013. Her thriller-like story of flight and fight is also between the lines a feisty social polemic. How did Finland turn into the North Korea of Europe?

The Eusistocratic Republic of Finland has prioritized social stability and national health, and outlawed practically everything that might give one pleasure or cause addiction. Well, almost everything: the distribution of sex, an essential commodity of pleasure, is made as efficient as possible. In order to achieve this, the state has bred a new human subspecies: one that is receptive, submissive and always willing. They used to be called women.

Vanna and Jare become involved in buying and selling a stimulant known to be extremely dangerous: chili. Then Jare comes across a strange religious cult in possession of the Core of the Sun, a pungent chili that is too hot to handle.

See here for a rave review of The Core of the Sun by Finland’s largest daily newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat.

Nominated for the Tähtivaeltaja (“Star Traveller”) award 2014!



“Johanna Sinisalo has a singular, singularly twisted imagination, and The Core of the Sun presents a chilling alternative scenario that has uncomfortable resonances for our own reality – all the while working in brilliantly fun satirical touches.”
– Amy Hundley, Grove Atlantic, USA

“Sinisalo creates a world so close, and yet so far, with small, often subtle twists…[The Core of the Sun] is a fun, feminist, political novel – as tasty as a strawberry habanero chilli sauce.”
-Deutschlandradio Kultur, Germany

Johanna’s Sinisalo’s dystopian The Core of the Sun is a stunningly evocative novel about the great literary theme of identity, brilliantly rendering the complex struggle between society’s norms, our innate personal qualities, and the transformative substances of the physical world. Sex, drugs, and bureaucracy: what could be more compelling?” —Robert Olen Butler, author of Hell

The novel builds a fascinating story centered on gender politics. – The Washington Post

“Written with wit and grace—Sinisalo describes depression as “a smooth-walled cavity, an open, echoing cave with a darkness living in it deeper than the space between the stars”—the novel maintains an impressive grasp on plot and suspense, easily luring the reader into taking its characters, politics, and striking story to heart.”
- Kirkus Starred Review

“Sinisalo harnesses the smooth writing and nicely calibrated pacing that has made her YA fiction popular, but ups the ante with well-placed and eerily fitting facts about the history of science, clever literary narrative, and complex characterization. This tale will appeal to dystopia lovers and fans of darkly offbeat suspense.” – Booklist Starred Review

” — this is an unusual and fun story with a strong dose of social commentary.”  – Publishers Weekly

“Sf, fantasy, and New Weird readers will revel in the elegantly blurred lines of science and mysticism. Readers seeking a reliable, strong, female narrator won’t be disappointed.”
Library Journal

“Sinisalo’s books can be shelved as literary fiction, science fiction, alternative history, fantasy, or magic realism, but a common factor in all of them is a realistic setting that is then given a twist, an element dropped into the mix that alters the state of things and leads to profound consequences.”
Seattle Review of Books 

“Readers who think they’re over the dystopia trend are about to find themselves proven wrong by so-called “queen of Finnish Weird,”
- Shelf Awareness

“Sinisalos’ imagination—which has previously turned to trolls and Moon-dwelling Nazis—is certainly airborne in The Core of the Sun.”

“Hailed for being “Finnish weird,” this read from Finnish speculative fiction superstar Johanna Sinisalo will especially delight fans of Margaret Atwood’sThe Handmaid’s Tale.”

Sinisalo’s presentation — layers of narrative dominated by Vanna’s, supplemented by Jare’s, and then livened up by interspersing all sorts of sometimes shocking, sometimes amusing odds and ends — is effective and makes for a lively, consistently engaging read.
Complete review

Read also a review in: Houston Chronicle

Written by Johanna Sinisalo

The Blood of Angels

Original title: Enkelten verta | Published: September 2011 | Publisher: Teos
Class: Fiction | Format: 130 x 207 mm | Pages: 275 | Binding: Hardcover | Sample translation: English

Rights sold:
World English, Peter Owen
France, Actes Sud
Poland, Foksal

Reading materials:
Finnish edition
English edition
French edition

“The queen is dead. The bees are gone. Thus, the world is about to end. But if you follow the bees, there are doors in the air. And a desperate man is ready to go through one.”

Albert Einstein is claimed to have said that if bees disappear from the earth, mankind has four years left to live. When mass bee-vanishings of unprecedented scope and devastation hit the United States, Orvo, a beekeeper, knows all too well where it will lead. And one day, when Orvo goes to check on his hives, he is forced to witness something he wishes he had never lived to see. The queen is dead. The epidemic has spread to Europe. The world is coming to an end.

The light of Orvo’s life is his son, Eero, whose secret animal activist existence Orvo discovers far too late. Eero’s activities as a defender of animal rights and an ardent opponent of Orvo’s inherited way of life propel the family into irreversible, gutwrenching conflict. Orvo takes a desperate step onto a path where only he and the bees know the way… This novel is a magical plunge into the myth of death and immortality, a tale of human blindness in the face of overwhelming choices and inevitabilities.

Included on Publishers Weekly’s Top 10 list of the Best Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror for fall 2014!


“A compelling and intimate rumination on animal rights, world food supply, and the indispensable role of bees to our environment…The story is told with a quiet, literary precision and is a welcome addition to the sometimes raucous and violent nature of dystopian literature.”
Booklist, U.S, starred review

“At the intersection of science and fiction, award-winning Finnish author Sinisalo digs deep into a character who’s searching for answers about his child, his life, and what may come after. Stunning prose takes the reader down a twisting path between gritty eco­terrorism and another world, with winged messengers leading the way.”
Library Journal, U.S, starred review

“A new novel by Finnish author Sinisalo uses harrowing ecological collapse and an idyllic parallel world to examine both the possibility of global disaster and one man’s surreal, life-altering experience of grief…Sinisalo’s novel engages in a fierce discussion of ecological choices while also imagining an unusually picturesque, Orpheus-tinged search for love beyond death.”
Kirkus Reviews, U.S

“As [main character] Orvo’s life story emerges particularly his complex relationships with his son, father, and grandfather the reader will be moved to contemplate the unforeseen ways that each generation influences the next….a dour but impressive novel by renowned Finnish fantasist Sinisalo.”
Publishers Weekly, U.S

“A melding of thesis novel, fantasy novel and environmental thriller, The Blood of Angels enthralls… this paranoid tale of the world’s decline should make readers see bothersome bees in a completely new light.”
L’Opinion, Quotidien Paris, France

Johanna Sinisalo chills the blood with her vision of the disappearance of bees (…) Sinisalo succeeds wonderfully in depicting the threats facing the entire world through one individual’s personal tragedy”
Aamulehti newspaper, Finland

Sinisalo Birdbrain

Written by Johanna Sinisalo


Nominated for the Prix Escapades 2012

Original title: Linnunaivot | Published: 2008 | Publisher: Teos
Class: Fiction | Pages: 332 | Binding: Hardcover | Sample translations: English

Rights sold:
UK, Peter Owen
France, Actes Sud
Norway, Vega

Reading materials:
Finnish edition
English edition
French edition
Norwegian edition

Birdbrain is a skilful portrait of the unquenchable desire of Westerners for the pure and the primitive. A young Finnish couple, Jyrki and Heidi, go on the hiking trip of a lifetime in Australasia with Heart of Darkness as reading material. To Jyrki’s great surprise, his girlfriend Heidi demands to come with him, frightened by the idea of several months of solitude. The trip gradually turns into a tortuous thriller with belongings disappearing and, even more mysteriously, reappearing. The travellers come to be at the mercy of untamed nature Birdbrain describes Western people’s desperate longing for somewhere unspoilt and primitive with biting irony. At the same time, it reveals the dark side of this longing, showing it to be an insatiable desire to control, invade and destroy.. Birdbrain reveals the dark side of the explorer’s desire: the insatiable need to control, to invade and leave one’s mark on the landscape. But what happens when nature starts to fight back?

 The Guardian newspaper and Publishers Weekly both included the novel on their list of recommendations.


“A sense of lurking horror that will leave you troubled for weeks”
– Sam Jordison, A Guardian Book of the Year, 2010

Sinisalo Not before Sundown

Written by Johanna Sinisalo

Not Before Sundown

Finlandia prize 2000
James Tiptree, Jr. Award

Original title: Ennen päivänlaskua ei voi | Published: 2000 | Publisher: Tammi
Class: Fiction | Format: 110 x 178 mm | Pages: 268 | Binding: Hardcover | Sample translations: English

Rights sold:
Albania, Dituria
Brazil, Devir
Bulgaria, Perseus
Czech Republic, One Woman Press
France, Actes Sud
Germany, Tropen (Klett-Cotta)
Japan, Sunmark*
Latvia, Atena
Lithuania, Vaga
Poland, Terytoria*
Russia, Amphora*
Slovenia, Modrijan*
Spain, Polledro*
Sweden, Wahlström&Widstrand
UK, Peter Owen
USA, Grove Atlantic
*Rights reverted

Reading materials:
Finnish edition
English edition
French edition

The international fantasy bestseller (published in the U.S as Troll) and winner of the Finlandia Prize. Mikael, a young gay photographer, finds in the courtyard of his apartment block a small, man-like creature. It is a young troll, familiar from Scandinavian mythology: a demonic, wild beast. And it is the most beautiful thing he has ever seen. Supposedly extinct, today it is regarded as a hairy, cuddly toy by Nordic children. Mikael gives the troll a name, Pessi, and takes him home and hides him.

The first thing Mikael does is research everything he can about trolls from the internet, from folklore, nature journals and newspaper cuttings.What Mikael does not discover is that trolls exude pheromones that smell like a Calvin Klein aftershave and that this has a profound aphrodisiac effect on all those around him. Shooting an assignment for an ultra-hip brand of jeans, Mikael finds himself fast-tracked into a dangerous liaison with Martes, the sexually ambivalent art director of the advertising agency concerned, while a couple of his friends in turn fall in love with him because he carries the troll’s scent. What Mikael fails above all to learn, with tragic consequences, is that Pessi the troll is the interpreter of man’s darkest, most forbidden impulses.


“A sharp, resonant, prickly book that exists on the slipstream of SF, fantasy, horror and gay fiction.”
– Neil Gaiman

“A punk version of The Hobbit”
USA Today

“Chillingly seductive.”
Independent, Best Reads of 2003

Troll offers an ingenious dramatization of the nightmare of blurred boundaries between species, and a disturbing dystopian vision reminiscent of Karel Capek’s classic War with the Newts. A fascinating black comedy, from a writer who has made the transition to literary fiction with a giant’s strides.
Kirkus Reviews, U.S ( starred review)


Other works

Sinisalo_Salattuja voimia_kansiWritten by Johanna Sinisalo

Hidden Powers

Original title: Salattuja voimia | Published: 2012 | Publisher: Teos
Class: Fiction | Format: 130 x 207 mm | Pages: 350 | Binding: Hardcover

Hidden Powers – A Guide to Hiking Trails Both Dark and Bright comprises one novelette and half a dozen other short stories, all inspired by hiking. Sinisalo pushes the boundaries of realism in her stories about humans’ relationship to nature.
The fictional stories are accompanied with nonfictional anecdotes about Sinisalo’s own hiking experiences and a section of practical tips for planning a trek.

Sinisalo_Mobiuksen_maa_kansi_suomiWritten by Johanna Sinisalo | Illustrated by Miisa Lopperi

The Land of Mobius

Original title: Möbiuksen maa | Published: 2010 | Publisher: Teos
Class: Children’s illustrated novel | Format: 110 x 178 mm | Binding: Hardcover | Pages: 192 |
Sample translations: English

Rights sold:
Denmark, Turbine

A Thrilling Adventure for Children!

Pi is eight years old, and she’s had a rotten summer vacation so far. Her best friend Sanna is moving away, and her special hideout in the woods has been smashed. Even her big sisters, who are verging on adolescence, have changed so much she hardly recognizes them anymore. But then Pi finds a strange object that looks like a bracelet among the trash cans, and an even stranger creature: Schrödinger’s Cat, who according to its own words both exists and does not exist at the same time…

Schrödinger’s Cat leads Pi into a thrilling parallel world, the existence of which is threatened by a mystical danger. As it turns out, Pi is the one who can save this world! But how can Pi, a little girl, meet such a challenge? Especially as it becomes evident that she might be just a figment of someone else’s imagination too? For a guide, Pi has Topo, a creature that was born wise and is getting dumber by the moment as it grows older. Pi encounters Hills That Walk and the noinutes, greedy little creatures that hold the will of the pack above all else.

The Land of Mobius is a wild, exciting, complex tale that will whisk children away on an adventure that will test their intelligence and imagination – and at the same time explore concepts like friendship, aging, tolerance, and how in all worlds everything affects everything else. Greed, laziness, and selfishness may not triumph after all, when confronted by Pi, a clever child who struggles to overcome her own limitations and has read her best loved books closely.

Johanna Sinisalo has done it again: surprised everyone. Who knew a trip to another reality could be quite this charming or fun?

Sinisalo_Lasisilma_kansi_suomiWritten by Johanna Sinisalo

The Glass Eye

Original title: Lasisilmä | Published: 2006 | Publisher: Teos
Class: Fiction | Format: 130 x 207 mm | Binding: Hardcover | Pages: 329 | Sample translations: English | Published in German

The Glass-Eye is a ruthless psychological thriller which describes the dynamics of a close, creative work team. It describes how Taru finds herself in a world where the boundaries of fiction and facts blur and the prophecies begin to come true. In the world of Glass-Eye Taru learns that all relationships have hidden meanings and that nothing is necessarily what it seems. When Taru’s little sister Aija appears on the scene, the events take another turn and there is no turning back.

Johanna Sinisalo’s works hook the reader straight away. Her stories open doors to new worlds: they look at life from strange angles, they create suspense and make the reader laugh as well. Sinisalo’s books always offer sharp and open-minded analysis, and criticism of contemporary society. The Glass-Eye is not an exception. Is the television screen a window to another world or maybe it is a mirror? Does the glass-eye observe us from the corner of our living room instead of us observing it, just as George Orwell predicted?

“How can a book be so complex and multi-levelled? Johanna Sinisalo’s The Glass-Eye changes its structure and colours like a chameleon.”
– Kati Hyttinen, MTV3/Helmi

Sinisalo_Kadettomat_kuninkaat_kansi_suomiWritten by Johanna Sinisalo

The Handless Kings and Other Disturbing Tales

Original title: Kädettömät kuninkaat ja muita häiritseviä tarinoita | Published: 2005 | Publisher: Teos | Class: Fiction | Format: 130 x 207 mm | Binding: Hardcover | Pages: 366

Johanna Sinisalo’s retrospective collection of short stories, The Handless Kings and Other Disturbing Tales, consists of both stories published earlier and completely new ones. The prize stories have been extolled by Finnish science fiction fans: three of the stories published in the collection have been awarded the Atorox prize. The novelette Baby Doll was shortlisted for the Nebula Award in 2009. The stories in the collection are set in places familiar to us and yet somehow amazingly different.

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