Jussi Valtonen’s Finlandia prize-winning novel sells a whopping 110,000 copies!

Sales of Jussi Valtonen’s acclaimed Finlandia Prize-winning novel They Know Not What They Do have topped 110,000 copies (across all formats) in Finland this month.

Translation rights to the work have sold into nine languages, with forthcoming translations in French, German and Polish publishing in spring 2017, followed by the English edition in autumn 2017.

The Dutch translation earned the novel praise from the Belgian De Standaard newspaper: “An ambitious, nuanced plea for compassion. […] It’s a strikingly unusual book, especially in these times of big data and advanced analytics […] Underneath is a classic story of one man’s downfall […] Despite the classic subject it is also a story of our time.”

They Know Not What They Do is an incisively intelligent and powerful novel about the big as well as the small issues of our era.  It perceptively describes the paradox of a world in which the growing amount of information and data doesn’t lead to a deeper understanding between humans, and one in which some people are prepared to sacrifice almost everything to defend their convictions.

In her speech at the award ceremony, the jury’s spokesperson, Professor Anne Brunila described Valtonen’s as “a mind-blowing work.” […] “In many ways, Valtonen’s book opens new doors in Finnish literature, both in content as well as style”.

Jussi Valtonen (b. 1974) is a Helsinki-based writer with a doctorate in neuropsychological research from the University of Helsinki. He has authored three novels and a short story collection.

Selected praise for Jussi Valtonen:

“For a long time we have wished for a bold literary curveball – a big, new, Finnish contemporary novel. And here it is…[They Know Not What They Do] doesn’t crystallise into just one novel; at the core of its narrative are the morals of scientific research, the disappearance of privacy and the commoditisation of life, as well as the dismantling of the nuclear family, the internal tensions of a newly formed family, and the growing pains of children who ultimately turn against their parents…the end result is a comprehensive picture of our time and a diagnosis of what is ailing this brave new world – nothing more, nothing less.” – Helsingin Sanomat newspaper, Finland

Valtonen asks crucial questions about our time and technological progress […] mainly, though, he portrays a family with empathy, and portrays people living and working, loving, and failing.” – Anvar Cukoski, Piper Verlag, Germany

Rights sold:

FINLAND, Tammi (Original publisher)
FRANCE, Fayard
LITHUANIA, Alma Littera
NETHERLANDS, Signatuur/A.W. Bruna
POLAND, Foksal
VIETNAM, Chibooks

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About author

Jussi Valtonen

Jussi Valtonen (1974) is an author and psychologist from Helsinki. He has studied neuropsychology in the United States and screenwriting in the UK, and has also worked as a science reporter. He has written three novels and a short story collection.

Carried by Wings (Siipien kantamat, Tammi 2007) was given second place in Bonnier’s novel competition, and received a warm reception from both critics and bloggers. In 2014 Valtonen was awarded the Finlandia Prize, the country’s highest-profile literary award, for They Know Not What They Do (He eivät tiedä mitä tekevät, Tammi 2014).


2014, Literary Fiction

They Know Not What They Do

Jussi Valtonen