The Core of the Sun

Reading material

English edition
Finnish edition

Original title: Auringon ydin

Published: 2013

Publisher: Teos

Class/genre: Fantasy & S/F

Pages: 340


Prometheus Prize ’Best Novel’ winner 2017

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.

Rights sold (The Core of the Sun):
CZECH, Euromedia
DENMARK, Jensen & Dalgaard
FRANCE, Actes Sud
GERMANY, Klett-Cotta
HUNGARY, Metropolis Media
LATVIA, Petergailis
TURKEY, Ithaki
WORLD ENGLISH, Grove Atlantic

core  avecjoieetdocilite


Featured in ’10 Dystopian Novels to Inspire You to Fight for Your Reproductive Freedoms’ – LitHub, December 2016

“Compared to Atwood and Vonegut, but Sinisalo’s disturbing and often whimsical vision is uniquely her own.” – The Guardian

Margaret Atwood and Aldous Huxley get down with Carlos Castaneda in The Core of The Sun, an adventurous and original dystopian satire which isn’t likely to be forgotten in a hurry… It’s dark, biting, unlike anything you’ll read this year and, ultimately, a triumph.” – The Herald

There’s a streak of scathing satire to the book’s fragmentary science fiction, and in that sense it sits somewhere between Margaret Atwood and Kurt Vonnegut – but Sinisalo crafts a funny, unsettling, emotionally charged apparition of the present that’s all her own. – NPR

 “As a mirror held slantwise to patriarchal violence, it is often convincing, and rarely without also being clever and comical. Likewise, as a repudiation of the egalitarian gloriousness of the ’Nordic model,’ it’s a thing we rarely behold in America: a feminist novel that propels you forward to its terrifying, pulpy conclusion.” Flavorwire

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’s The Handmaid’s Tale.”

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

“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

“An intoxicating book, sizzling to look at and as spicy as a hot pepper.”  Weltexpress, Germany

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

Also reviewed in the Houston Chronicle

Johanna Sinisalo

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.


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