We are extremely happy to announce our new author Sirpa Kähkönen! Please join us in welcoming her on board.
Sirpa Kähkönen has published ten novels of which three have been nominated for the prestigious Finlandia prize and one for the Nordic Council prize. She has authored two books for young adults and a non-fiction bestseller ‘Vihan ja rakkauden liekit (Flames of Love and Hatred) that was nominated for the Tieto Finlandia prize.
Sirpa Kähkönen is a Finnish novelist and translator. Initially writing for young adults, she gained popularity in Finland with her ’Kuopio series’ of historical novels. Her newest novel THE GREEN CHAMBER is nominated for the prestigious Savonia Prize 2021.
Born in Kuopio, Kähkönen studied literature and history at the University of Helsinki, before working as an editor. She embarked on her literary career in 1991 with Kuu taskussa (Moon in your Pocket) for young adults, publishing her first adult novel Mustat morsiamet (Black Brides, 1998), which earned her the Savonia award in 1999. Her previous work Graniittimies (Granite Man) is a historical novel depicting the lives of young Finns in Soviet times.
Sirpa Kähkönen was born to a family that had been harshly treated by the history of the 1900s. World War II – and the Civil War preceding it, had wounded her family members and marked them with heavy silence and unspoken words.
Mapping out that silence became Sirpa’s work. The first questions that arose were related to her closest circle: what had happened to her beloved grandparents? From her personal sphere the intellectual curiosity widened to touch upon the history of Finland and onwards to the history of Europe, and finally, doing research on the fate of an individual during times of crisis.
Sirpa Kähkönen lives and works in Helsinki. She constructs her works upon research, using a wide array of archives, newspaper clippings, research material, and contemporary literature. Inspired by the microhistorical research tradition, Sirpa writes about how mentalities are formed, and how the abstract legacy runs in family lines and in societies.
Sirpa Kähkönen’s historical novel begins where source information ends. It opens the gates to experiencing the past in a sensory way; the characters live out the story as physical, sensual beings.
THE GREEN CHAMBER
’The Green Chamber” is a novel about youth that is shadowed by the ghost of WWII. In the beginning of the 1960s, young people are carrying the weight of their parents’ war experience that has been veiled behind obmutescence and hence is so difficult to open and unravel into anything else than the language of emotional reactions.
As their parents are exhausted from the post-war world of reconstruction, three young people, Irene, Leo and Jaakko are searching for their ways into a carefree reality in which Beatles is playing in the jukebox and where gleaming aluminum Sputniks slice through black winterskies.
’The Green Chamber” is also a novel about being young in the tumultuous, revolutionary early days of the 1900s and the First World War and many civil wars in Europe. It tells the story of two young people meeting on the pine growing high ramparts of the Finnish Gulf, in the villa community of Terijoki which was nick-named ‘Terry’ by the English spirited aristocracy of the time. When Santeri and Linnea meet, the Russian revolution had plunged the princes and the princesses into poverty and desolated the grand villas, making the young couple set their only faith on raising flowers and cherishing friendships.
In December 1964, in Kuopio, in the eastern lake area of Finland, it’s the time of harsh days of frost when the lake freezes moaningly in the grip of the cold. This is when the three young protagonists Irene, Leo and Jaakko solve the painful secrets of budding love and friendship and the ageing couple Linnea and Santeri tend to their flower shop Paradise Lily like a secret, living green core.
In the core of ‘The Green Chamber’, as if in the deepest crannies of a tree, is a tale of an old man’s trip to Leningrad. He has sworn hatred towards the bolshevics ever since his dreams in youth were crushed in the Russian revolution. But in the beginning of 1964, something has broken within him and he is ready to face the repercussions of this fracture as he meets a young blonde girl. He follows her to Leningrad although he’s sworn he’d never set his foot on the pavement of the Leningrad of his youth before the bolshevics have been expelled from it. This journey will become the most important one of his life.
‘The Green Chamber’ is a depiction of the ferocious beauty of the North, of frost, the sandridges formed by Ice Age on which people build their fading fantasies of paradise. ‘The Green Chamber’ plays the tunes of nature like a wild symphony. It is a symbolic story of the deep power of the forests that appear as a safe harbor, an enchantment, and a metaphysical escape for the people of this novel. This is a novel about wars and rebellions that cast human beings around like driftwood and finally, tell the story of why, even on the last beach, the best deed of a human being is to plant a tree.
THE GREEN CHAMBER
Vihreä sali, Otava, 2021, 315 pp.