|We are very happy to announce that 36 URNS: A History of Being Wrong, the latest title by award-winning author Sirpa Kähkönen, has been nominated for the Finlandia Prize 2023!
The jury said of the novel:
“Sirpa Kähkönen’s strong, open minded narrative voice builds a bridge over the gap that separates generations. The burdens and wounds of the past are linked to the turning points of history in the intense novel. 36 Urns is a novel of one night, or alternatively of a whole century, skillfully kept together by the framework of objects. Even in a harsh world one finds beauty and tenderness when looking through the compassionate lens of the title.”
Finlandia is the most prestigious literary award in Finland, worth 30 000 euros. The winner will be announced on November 29th.
36 Urns: A History of Being Wrong
A celebrated author’s masterful and poetic confession of love to her mother
Author Sirpa Kähkönen’s mother Riitta (b. 1941) died in March 2022 after a long illness. In life, she struggled to accept love. “I do not grieve your death, I grieve your life,” Sirpa Kähkönen writes, knowing fully well that her mother wouldn’t like the phrase. Her mother rejected love, despite longing for it the most. Riitta was athletic, beautiful, and gifted. A traffic accident at the age of 16 changed the course of her life for ever.
Drawing on her mother’s diaries, Kähkönen depicts the life of a 1950s girl and the dramatic change that followed the accident. The novel talks about community dance halls, a broken mind, flowing hems, a 1960s mother, anxiety, anger and hate, addiction, and moments of psychosis. It talks about how wars and other crises become corporeal, how violence is inherited, and how the culture of discouragement and submission is passed down through the generations in sayings and attitudes, with the author clearly seeing herself as part of the tradition of anger and violence.
The novel is permeated by a fiery love, as if an ancient Finnish spell that, with the power of words, is capable of bringing loved ones back from the dead.
36 uurnaa – Väärässä olemisen historia
Siltala, August 2023, 267 pp.
FINLAND: Siltala (orig.)
English sample and synopsis